Email Delivery

Receive new posts as email.

Email address

Syndicate this site

RSS | Atom


About This Site
Contact Us
Privacy Policy


November 2010
Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        

Stories by Category

Basics :: Basics
Casting :: Casting Listen In Podcasts Videocasts
Culture :: Culture Hacking
Deals :: Deals
Future :: Future
Hardware :: Hardware Adapters Appliances Chips Consumer Electronics Gaming Home Entertainment Music Photography Video Gadgets Mesh Monitoring and Testing PDAs Phones Smartphones
Industry :: Industry Conferences Financial Free Health Legal Research Vendor analysis
International :: International
Media :: Media Locally cached Streaming
Metro-Scale Networks :: Metro-Scale Networks Community Networking Municipal
Network Types :: Network Types Broadband Wireless Cellular 2.5G and 3G 4G Power Line Satellite
News :: News Mainstream Media
Politics :: Politics Regulation Sock Puppets
Schedules :: Schedules
Security :: Security 802.1X
Site Specific :: Site Specific Administrative Detail April Fool's Blogging Book review Cluelessness Guest Commentary History Humor Self-Promotion Unique Wee-Fi Who's Hot Today?
Software :: Software Open Source
Spectrum :: Spectrum 60 GHz
Standards :: Standards 802.11a 802.11ac 802.11ad 802.11e 802.11g 802.11n 802.20 Bluetooth MIMO UWB WiGig WiMAX ZigBee
Transportation and Lodging :: Transportation and Lodging Air Travel Aquatic Commuting Hotels Rails
Unclassified :: Unclassified
Vertical Markets :: Vertical Markets Academia Enterprise WLAN Switches Home Hot Spot Aggregators Hot Spot Advertising Road Warrior Roaming Libraries Location Medical Public Safety Residential Rural SOHO Small-Medium Sized Business Universities Utilities wISP
Voice :: Voice


November 2010 | October 2010 | September 2010 | August 2010 | July 2010 | June 2010 | May 2010 | April 2010 | March 2010 | February 2010 | January 2010 | December 2009 | November 2009 | October 2009 | September 2009 | August 2009 | July 2009 | June 2009 | May 2009 | April 2009 | March 2009 | February 2009 | January 2009 | December 2008 | November 2008 | October 2008 | September 2008 | August 2008 | July 2008 | June 2008 | May 2008 | April 2008 | March 2008 | February 2008 | January 2008 | December 2007 | November 2007 | October 2007 | September 2007 | August 2007 | July 2007 | June 2007 | May 2007 | April 2007 | March 2007 | February 2007 | January 2007 | December 2006 | November 2006 | October 2006 | September 2006 | August 2006 | July 2006 | June 2006 | May 2006 | April 2006 | March 2006 | February 2006 | January 2006 | December 2005 | November 2005 | October 2005 | September 2005 | August 2005 | July 2005 | June 2005 | May 2005 | April 2005 | March 2005 | February 2005 | January 2005 | December 2004 | November 2004 | October 2004 | September 2004 | August 2004 | July 2004 | June 2004 | May 2004 | April 2004 | March 2004 | February 2004 | January 2004 | December 2003 | November 2003 | October 2003 | September 2003 | August 2003 | July 2003 | June 2003 | May 2003 | April 2003 | March 2003 | February 2003 | January 2003 | December 2002 | November 2002 | October 2002 | September 2002 | August 2002 | July 2002 | June 2002 | May 2002 | April 2002 | March 2002 | February 2002 | January 2002 | December 2001 | November 2001 | October 2001 | September 2001 | August 2001 | July 2001 | June 2001 | May 2001 | April 2001 |

Recent Entries

In-Flight Wi-Fi and In-Flight Bombs
Can WPA Protect against Firesheep on Same Network?
Southwest Sets In-Flight Wi-Fi at $5
Eye-Fi Adds a View for Web Access
Firesheep Makes Sidejacking Easy
Wi-Fi Direct Certification Starts
Decaf on the Starbucks Digital Network
Google Did Snag Passwords
WiMax and LTE Not Technically 4G by ITU Standards
AT&T Wi-Fi Connections Keep High Growth with Free Service

Site Philosophy

This site operates as an independent editorial operation. Advertising, sponsorships, and other non-editorial materials represent the opinions and messages of their respective origins, and not of the site operator. Part of the FM Tech advertising network.


Entire site and all contents except otherwise noted © Copyright 2001-2010 by Glenn Fleishman. Some images ©2006 Jupiterimages Corporation. All rights reserved. Please contact us for reprint rights. Linking is, of course, free and encouraged.

Powered by
Movable Type

« Dell Joins Draft N Delusion | Main | Podcast #10: Dave Vucina, Wayport »

July 17, 2006

Nortel Exec Pens Bizarro World Column on Google, Wi-Fi

Nortel's Richard Lowe is operating from some strange premises: In this editorial column, he states a variety of unsupported or simply odd conclusions. The article is primarily an attempt to defend cell operators against Google, for whatever reason I can't suppose. There must be some conflict there. The stalking man here is free Wi-Fi. While most municipal projects will not offer much or even any free Wi-Fi, that's the subject Lowe has fixated on.

He suggests that Google and EarthLink are collaborating on the San Francisco municipal Wi-Fi network, which is partly right (they submitted a proposal, but EarthLink will run the network and Google buy service to offer for free). But he notes Google will probably run ads, which the company recently said they would not in the early phases of its Mountain View network, or perhaps ever; this might translate into their SF plan, too. He talks about "combing through ads," which implies he's never used Google, and implies that Google would use interstitials or other invasive mechanisms.

He says that free service would be a lower quality and "less secure," which implies that Google and EarthLink can't operate a secure Wi-Fi network. In fact, Google is planning to offer a free VPN, and EarthLInk has stated several times that they'll use a secure local link (via EAP-TTLS, a secure Wi-Fi/wired authentication technology). The Tropos nodes on EarthLink's networks will communicate via a secured protocol, too, from what I've been told.

Lowe then ventures into an area he clearly hasn't studied or would like to represent outside of what we agree is reality. "Wi-Fi is great for enterprises and municipal hot spots...But Wi-Fi signals travel only several hundred feet. So unless you have hot spots linked across your city, you will not get a constant connection as you travel. You will also have to sign on each time you change hot spots." Woof. I guess he doesn't know what a metro-scale network is: a large, enterprise-like network. He is, instead, writing about free hotspots that might be offered by a city or downtown commerce group.

He notes, "And unlike 3G cellular, Wi-Fi is not built for full mobility." This is true if you measure mobility as "traveling fast." There's fixed service, in which one is always at the same locations; portable or nomadic service, in which you carry an adapter to different locations; and mobile service, often defined as vehicular traffic, as on the FCC's 3G Web site. (The FCC says 144 Kbps in vehicular motion is still 3G! This might be a bit out of date.) Wi-Fi can provide fixed and nomadic service, and mobile service often works up to a decent rate of speed, but requires some cleverness to work at highway speeds. That's a big area of development, and it's one where the cell companies have Wi-Fi beat solid.

This is where we get weird. Lowe defines why 3G is great versus Wi-Fi. "It offers ubiquitous coverage, traditional phone services and advanced Internet Protocol services like instant messaging, picture sharing, mobile video and interactive games. And it does so at greater distances, more securely and with higher quality. Unlike free Wi-Fi, there is no limit to whom or where you can call, e-mail or otherwise communicate with in the cellular world."

I can't argue with ubiquitous coverage, but it's getting harder to define what traditional phone services really means when VoIP is offered by so many major carriers worldwide. The advanced IP services? Don't get me started. Cell operators have walled gardens. When using Wi-Fi, you have the entire Internet at your disposal. The notion that cell operators provide unfettered calling (can't call VoIP numbers via SIP from a cell phone or use Skype) is a laugh, too. And your cell phone can e-mail anyone where free Wi-Fi doesn't allow you to? I don't get that point at all.

Now we get into a misunderstanding of bandwidth. "Wi-Fi simply cannot accommodate growing consumer demand for ubiquitous, immediate device-agnostic content and services delivered in the most simple, entertaining and reliable way." Wi-Fi isn't a delivery mechanism in the way a cell platform is. When he writes that "Wi-Fi" can't accommodate this, he might mean free Wi-Fi, but even so, that implies that spectrum-constrained and service-agreement constrained 3G services will deliver better results than, say, a cheap DSL connection in a cafe. Hard to see that. No YouTube allowed on Verizon, for just one instance.

Lowe doesn't ignore telephony. "The current Google Wi-Fi offer has other limitations as well. For one thing, the "free" phone service primarily works for PC-to-PC calls. Call your friend's cell phone or BlackBerry from your Google Wi-Fi connection, and it will cost you." Right. Again, we're focused on free. And my "free" cell phone service that I pay $100 per month for (for my wife and I) includes 850 minutes of prime time calling. For $100 per month, I could get 5,000 minutes of 2-cent-per-minute calling. So it's a hard comparison.

"Another thing to keep in mind is that most PCs were not designed for phone calls. Most PC and laptop speakers, as well as microphones, do not provide the level of voice quality we've come to expect from our phone service. Moreover, laptops aren't the most convenient devices to carry around for making phone calls and connecting to the Web on the go." Oh my goodness--would someone tell this man about Treos and smartphones, and how every single handset maker on the planet has or will shortly have dual mode cell/Wi-Fi handset? Stat!

"IMS [a cell network multimedia standard] transforms the Internet from a static document storage and retrieval tool to a more interactive, entertaining and "live" environment with real-time services." Mr. Lowe, by the way, is running Windows 95, otherwise this statement comes from Bizarro world. "Me like multimedia, so me not use Internet to access it."

This man needs our help, not least of which because Nortel builds Wi-Fi and WiMax infrastructure that directly contradicts his entire column.

1 TrackBack

Lowe Taken to Task over Wi-Fi from All Nortel, All the Time on July 18, 2006 4:45 AM

WiFi News Net (hat tip to Rob Hyndman) takes Richard Lowe, Nortel’s president of president of Mobility and converged core networks, over an editorial he wrote about Wi-Fi vs. 3G on It’s a strange piece because Lowe starts by rejec... Read More