Will Google's Wi-Fi Ambitions Stumble?

An article over at Techworld introduces the sweeping statement of: ‘Why Google’s Wi-Fi ambitions “will fail'”. The article stems mostly from an interview with Andy Seybold, with whom we often agree, despite the fact that he is definitely a “cellular” man. Mr. Seybold essentially says that Muni WiFi is doomed because of interference issues, and the utter inability to control the 2.4GHz airspace that WiFi uses. We, too, have serious doubts about 802.11b’s ability to excel as an outdoor network. Seybold mentions that a Muni WiFi customer, for example, could be knocked off the network by a neighbor who installs a new AP in their home. We would add the opposite case and ask “what happens when a homeowner is happily using their home WiFi network, and a Muni WiFi AP is put on their front lawn using the same channel?” Won’t there be some unhappy users? Also, don’t kid yourselves that Muni WiFi uses “the ubiquitous standard WiFi radios you all own”, most towns require external antennas and specialized high-power equipment for the majority of their subscribers. Where we disagree with the article, is in the fact that nothing stands still. Muni Wireless has many other wireless technologies from which to choose, some of which are better suited than WiFi. Also, future versions of WiFi will greatly improve the suitability of unlicensed spectrum for this task. We have doubts about Municipal 802.11b, but we don’t see that as synonymous with Muni Wireless.

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