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« Through Japan, by Skype | Main | Wi-Fi: Safe at Any Speed »

February 21, 2005

Different Verizon Issues Wireless FUD in Texas

This time, it's Verizon Wireless, a subsidiary of the phone giant, which says that Wi-Fi doesn't work over areas: The Austin Business Journal reports on Verizon Wireless's interesting timing in upgrading service in the Texas Capitol. It's interesting that they choose this moment for a massive improvement in voice and data service--including EVDO upgrades--when the legislature has a pro-incumbent, anti-municipal, anti-public/private partnership bill in front of it.

The article doesn't mention who paid for this upgrade; it sounds like Verizon Wireless did as part of their routine infrastructure improvements. But still--please. There are no coincidences in coordinated lobbying efforts.

A spokesperson for Verizon explains that the new "broadband" service will be everywhere.

"It's different than Wi-Fi. With Wi-Fi, you're limited to one spot. Broadband access allows you access anywhere the service is offered, which in this case, is throughout the entire building."

Uh, yeah, maybe you need to read an article or two about how SBC and Cingular are going to eat your lunch in the data game through integration of VoIP, DSL, 3G, and Wi-Fi? Or possibly visit La Defense in Paris where they have Wi-Fi, strangely, throughout the entire massive building. Or possibly you could visit Qualcomm's headquarters in which they freely admit that Wi-Fi available...throughout their entire campus.

How exciting to have "broadband" of a few hundred kilobits per second everywhere, shared among thousands of people. How interesting to note that you have to add special equipment in order to provide full-speed interior coverage with EVDO.


If this is Verizon Wireless's Wi-Fi plan, dissing it through inaccurate statements that misrepresent it, SBC and Cingular are going to mop the floor with them on the data side. They've just admitted that EVDO doesn't work well in interior spaces, haven't they?

We already knew that, but now they're stating that they have no idea how Wi-Fi deployments work, either. Worse, they even point out EVDO's big disadvantage: "users must be Verizon Wireless customers to access the service." That's right: instead of a network that the state of Texas owns and operates and provides "free" access to at megabits per second for its staff and legislators, each user must have a laptop and a PC card (hundreds of dollars) and a subscription.

Is anyone going to complain that taxpayer money is going to Verizon instead of an internal information technology department in the state that could offer higher bandwidth at enormously lower cost and deliver voice over IP (oops, competes with Verizon) as well as streaming video and audio? There's some free public Wi-Fi available (courtesy Austin Wireless City Project), but it's only in select rooms.

I'll stop being irate now.


Don't stop being irate, man, I think we all need to run to the window, throw it open, and yell out, I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!

The culture of play for pay in this country is totally out of hand at all levels of government. The number of states trying to enact these bills is a travesty, and a threat to our national competitiveness. It slows the pace of deployment and keeps pricing artificially high.

Give 'em hell!

I can see your point, but there's no cause to be irate over the telco installing a leaky feeder system, just like they should have done at the time of installation, if they wanted ubiquitous in-building coverage. They're doing it elsewhere, as well, as a matter of course, where landlords and building owners have requested it, or where they find suitable demand to foot the bill themselves.

Leaky feeders of the type that Andrews Corp made popular are found throughout the world, mainly in high rise structures (the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, for example), underground garage areas, court houses, tunnels, mines and subway systems.

That being said, do you blame them for the timing they chose? You may not agree with Verizon on matters related to their views on municipal networking, and I share those sentiments along with you and others here. But don't begrudge them for improving on what they have in place.

WLANs and WiFi networks themselves are inadequate to perform the reach that is necessary in many extended enterprise venues, where distances are excessive and/or structural impediments to RF paths exist. And it is for this reason that IEEE 802 LANs are used to chain WLAN Access Points together throughout a building, effectively achieving the same end as the leaky feeder does when it is used by tariffed alternatives.

[Editor's note: I don't BLAME them for the timing. I'm simply noting that the timing is extremely fortunate for them in terms of the bill they want the legislature to pass.--gf]