Apple and AT&T announced the cost of a voice and "data" plan today for the iPhone, with nary a mention of Wi-Fi: Remember Wi-Fi? Remember how every demonstration of the iPhone's browsing, mapping, and email features are conducted via Wi-Fi, not the slower EDGE data service also built into an iPhone? Remember the promise of seamless EDGE-to-Wi-Fi and back roaming with no disruption in the delivery of data during that transition? Remember how goddamn slow EDGE is--about three times faster than the best analog dial-up, weighing in north of 150 Kpbs in ideal cases?
Apple and AT&T are hoping you don't quite remember that well. After you drop $500 or $600 on the iPhone, and pay $50 on up for an unlimited "data" plan--unlimited EDGE data--you're stuck high and dry without Wi-Fi hotspot access. AT&T WiFi is the company's large, managed and aggregated network with what I believe is 10,000 locations at last count: 8,000 McDonald's picked up from Wayport and 2,000 other locations (managed by Wayport), such as The UPS Store. They offer this for $2 per month to their landline DSL customers.
And no word whatsoever about how iPhone users will access Wi-Fi when not on a home or friend's network. The little High Technology page that shows wireless features of the iPhone says, "iPhone automatically finds and connects to trusted Wi-Fi networks so you can surf the Web at blazing speeds." Trusted. Huh.
Because seamless connections to hotspots require custom software--software that a third party can't install on an iPhone yet--iPhone owners who want to use hotspots will have to connect, use the browser, and login, too. You'd think they would have thought of this, given the availability of Wi-Fi on and off AT&T's own network.
Mac OS X has built-in corporate Wi-Fi networking support for 802.1X/WPA Enterprise, which allows secure access to networks protected with that standard. I don't know of any corporation that wouldn't choose to use 802.1X, as it assigns unique encryption keys to each log-in session. There's no word on support for that, either.