Holy Grail time, kids: Nokia announced Wi-Fi/GSM GPRS Wi-Fi card: Nokia has been shipping a Wi-Fi card with a SIM slot to allow authentication and billing via existing cell network back office systems, but this is the real deal, and the beginning of the beginning of cell telco/wISP alignment. I was talking to a colleague yesterday about this very issue: the companies making the cellular equipment will have to drive the market, because cell companies don't have a particular motivation to make it easier for their customers to switch from band to band and service to service. Decreased friction also means you spend more to keep customers and can lose customers quickly. Nokia is taking the lead by offering the devices, and the cell companies will follow that lead and start partnering and building services. It's not as simple as that, of course, but users have driven the deployment of WLANs, and they will resist plain GPRS services, priced expensively, unless they're coupled with the Nokia card and wISP access. [via Alan Reiter; read his analysis.]
Intersil and Cisco join forces for 802.11g reference design: the reference design is a standard implementation that chipmakers often like to provide to manufacturers as both a proof of concept and a tool to get them going. Some companies take the reference design, send it off to manufacturing, and mix in packaging and marketing - and voila! A product. Cisco's involvement is fascinating, given that they sell equipment in the arena. It's obvious they want to derive some kind of revenue stream from this involvement, possibly through royalties on the reference design and software patents?
B is Busting Out All Over: It's getting so that I can't pick up a newspaper or magazine, or turn on the radio, and not hear thebeat of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi. In today's New York Times Circuits Q&A column, a reader asks about Apple's AirPort compatibility with other Wi-Fi devices. Meanwhile, Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal answers a sensible question on whether a wireless network card offers access everyone or just near networks; lots of average folks confuse wireless cell and wireless LANs. The Seattle Times ran a business article a week ago Monday, Paul Andrews's column this last Monday, and I have a how-to/why-to piece coming up this or next Saturday. Okay, I'm part of the problem, aren't I?