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And the Award for Wi-Fi Geek Cred for 2002 Goes to...: Four guys. Two cars. A cell phone. Some laptops. And Wi-Fi. Man, they beat me to it: I've been contemplating this idea for a year, and I should have just done it. En route to a conference, these four gentleman used a combination of off-the-shelf, easy-to-configure hardware and a variety of relatively straightforward software to create a two-car mobile Wi-Fi network with a cell uplink.
It's an amusing story, but it'll get better. When cars start getting prewired for network access, this kind of story will be commonplace. (Okay, maybe not the Wi-Fi hub strapped to the center storage area.) Automobile makers will certainly opt for Bluetooth as a main driver of built-in Car Area Networking. With always-on/on-demand connections, a mobile worker could step into their car (or even reach the vicinity) and have queued and inbound email start their merry dance with no intervention. If you spend a few hours a day in a car for work, a low-speed GSM or GPRS connection is no hindrance: it sends enough, fast enough.
Better yet, when you pull up to a long stoplight, the system automatically spots and connects to the Wi-Fi network in the area, reinitializes your VPN, and sends data quite fast until you start moving out of range again.
It's not science fiction. It just requires a few connective pieces that are on the way.
Expert, in-depth analysis of UWB's near-term future: A truly superb piece explaining the past, present, and near-term future of ultrawideband (UWB). UWB has the potential to displace or replace 802.11 family protocols, but there's a lot of work between here and there.
Kevin Werbach buys a loaf of bread: the reference is obscure (see David Ives's All in the Timing), but Kevin makes an interesting point about Wi-Fi density in San Francisco and the loss of revenue opportunity for T-Mobile/Starbucks. Starbucks can be as excited as they want about Wi-Fi, but given their real-estate guidelines, they may find that free and cheap networks abound wherever they set down.