Not good news for those who thought Verizon Wireless was clueful: This New York Times article does a terrific job explaining both technology and applications of those who want a primer in 2G, 2.5G, and 3G cellular data networking, even though the author doesn't like the term 2.5G and mentions it in passing, which then sort of confuses the role that EDGE plays in the transition. (The technology went 2G, 3G, 2.5G: 2.5G was a bridge inserted to make sure the cell companies had some faster speeds before 3G could be deployed.)
But the doozy in this piece is the quote from Verizon Wireless's chief marketing officer--note that word marketing--"For the business customer, especially the laptop guy, it's all about speed and ubiquity," Mr. Stratton added. "I think this really puts a hurt on the entire Wi-Fi concept for the business user."
He's made the classic mistake of believing his own advertising copy and has the sound of a company without a Wi-Fi plan. EVDO is maybe 300 Kbps on average on a good day. As additional users with unlimited plans and using Verizon's new video delivery service start crowding on urban networks, available bandwidth will decrease, although average speeds shouldn't drop too far; it's more likely burst speeds that jump up to 1 Mbps disappear, from my understanding.
Wi-Fi is constrained by the back-end pipe. Right now, that's 1 to 1.5 Mbps in most locations that are serious about Wi-Fi, which would include all the major domestic hotspot networks, comprising well over 15,000 of the hotspots in the U.S. That bandwidth will climb without extraordinary additional costs. Covad can provide 6 Mpbs down/1 Mbps up ADSL in parts of the country for about $80 per month. EVDO speeds and availability on cells is constrained by spectrum and technology; higher speeds are years away per earlier articles on this site.
As applications increasingly become bandwidth dependent--podcasting and video delivery being too leading-edge trends--the user who now might be content to spend $80 per month for ubiquitous EVDO in many major cities and can stand to wait a few minutes longer to download his or her PowerPoint presentation, well, that same user signs up for Cingular's future UMTS network along with a FreedomLink unlimited Wi-Fi plan, and, by the way, uses VoIP at home and the on road to cap long distance expenses and be reachable.
If Verizon is really looking at EVDO as a single mode delivery mechanism over which they deliver a variety of services, they're out of step with what SBC (and Cingular, as a majority-owned partner) is telling the industry is the future: integration across DSL, Wi-FI, and cellular, with applications layered across all three modes of delivery to their customers. Customers seek the right kind of bandwidth for the application rather than stapling the application on top of the bandwidth that the firm has available.
Among other trends, Verizon is missing the VoIP train and the increasing trend for bandwidth heavy and low latency services, and those applications could trump video on a tiny screen wherever you want it.