The Current Trend of the Week: Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Hot Spot Infrastructure: Many folks have written in after the Sputnik unveiling to mention two other firms: SOHO Wireless and Joltage. All three firms are promoting what I would label vernacular autochthonous infrastructure just to be wordy.
Vernacular, because they want people and companies of all types to install these things without lots of fancy administrative experience. The software appears in all three cases to solve many of the internal network security issues, although a closer look is warranted. The notion in each case is that you install the software, type in a little configuration information, and you're a node.
Autochthonous, which means literally springing oneself from the earth, because these points will pop up all over the place, much like the mythical soldiers sprouted from dragons' teeth.
Infrastructure, because these firms are trying to build out national networks without themselves ever touching hardware. Software is a virus; hardware is a business.
I expect that each of these companies has a grander goal: not creating their own hegemony of branded access points that don't talk to other networks. Rather their goal is to be part of the 1,000 or 100,000 hot spots of light that will fill in the gaps in community and commercial deployments, by providing ease and profit sharing.
Yeah, did I mention profit-sharing?
Each of these firms has a different notion about it, but the participants who run software will be affiliates and get something in return: free access to other network points or a share in the booty.
I expect that because we're seeing three, and some part of all three companies are based on using GPL'd software, we may see a wave of new firms.
Glenn's prediction: if successful, these companies will coordinate their hot spots through Boingo and Boingo-like firms to increase coverage in disparate areas, broadening the footprint without incurring extra expense.
News for 3/11/02
Atheros to offer 802.11a/b plus draft e/g/i chipsets in second half of 2002: in a big step forward, and faster than I would have expected, Atheros will ship chipsets that support current 802.11 a and b technology, as well as the draft forms of e (quality of service), g (high-bit rate 2.4 GHz), and i (TKIP or AES security). Since none of these drafts are yet in their ratification stage, it's interesting that this much can put into silicon. Or, to paraphrase a famous, awful battlefield saying: burn it all in silicon, and let God sort out the firmware.
Irony and/or a view of things to come: the cell industry's conference to offer $5 unlimited Wi-Fi through Boingo: 40,000 attendees can't be wrong - the Cellular Telephone and Internet Association (CTIA)'s annual conference runs March 18 to 20 in Orlando, Florida. Alan Reiter, among others, helped build the necessary partnerships to establish sitewide Wi-Fi. This will be a big chunk of exposure for Boingo, as well. Mobile Planet and Avaya will sell equipment on site. Read more at Alan Reiter's site.
WLANs replace wide-area cellular/radio networks: in a move that should freak out Motorola (if they haven't sold off this division) as well as a cellular telcos (if they haven't made their WLAN investment plans yet), a small community has installed full Wi-Fi coverage across 36 square miles to replace expensive radio and cellular service. [From ComputerWorld.com via Alan Reiter]
Portland, Oregon, hostel gets Wi-Fi access before the city's Starbucks, hotels, and airport: Another coup for the folks at community group Personal Telco, which involved donations of ISP service from a local firm, and a donation by Intel, which has a heavy presence in the area, of Wi-Fi equipment. Nice job, folks! Read more about the group at their site. [via Nigel Ballard of Personal Telco] Reports from Voicestream, by the way, indicate that Portland is the next city to get its Starbucks unwired.