Future of Wireless

Artigo interessante sobre o futuro das redes Wi-Fi. Há serviços se expandindo em hotéis, aeroportos, cafés, empresas como T-Mobile, Time Warner Cable, Fon propõem soluções, há mais de 300 cidades que já oferecem o serviço aos cidadãos. Tenho falado muito desse fenômeno aqui nesse Carnet e no Observatório das Cibercidades. As redes têm se expandindo no mundo mas, no entanto, há conflitos de interesses e indecisões quanto ao modelo de negócio a ser adotado e sobre quanto os usuários pagarão no futuro. Além disso novos protocolos, como o Wi-Max, surgem e discussões sobre liberação do espectro de ondas emergem. Será que no futuro, ter acesso a redes Wi-Fi será como ter tido acesso a bares, hotéis e restaurantes com ar condicionado no passado recente? Vejam o artigo “The Future of Wireless: ISPs, Businesses and Even Cities Seek to Offer Cheap or Free Connections — Which Will Win?” aqui na íntegra.

Abaixo alguns trechos:

“Not so long ago, Wi-Fi was a home project for tech geeks with a high tolerance for fiddling with router settings and WEP encryption. Today, wireless Internet access is regarded as practically a digerati birthright. Finding yourself in an airport or hotel without free wireless access is as odd and unwelcome as finding out your rental car doesn’t have a CD player. (Wait a year or two, and you’ll be able to substitute “satellite radio” or “iPod jack” for “CD player.”)


Fon sells wireless routers (called La Foneras) that let its members (Foneros) split their Wi-Fi connection into an encrypted channel for their own personal use and a public channel for the use of passers-by, creating a network of public wireless hotspots. Fon divides Foneros into three types: A Linus shares his or her access and in return can log onto any Fon hotspot free of charge; an Alien doesn’t share access and can get 24 hours of access to the Fon network for $2 or $3; and a Bill shares his or her access and skips free log-on rights in exchange for half the money Fon collects from Aliens using
that Bill’s Wi-Fi connection. Fon’s clever: It offers options for regular, on-the-go Internet users and businesses looking to make a little money from Wi-Fi, then throws some social-networking whimsy
into the mix.


Then there are efforts by cities and towns to offer cheap or free Wi-Fi. The most celebrated such efforts are taking shape in Philadelphia and San Francisco, but many other cities and towns are pursuing that goal, motivated by a desire to bridge the “digital divide” between rich and poor and eagerness to bill themselves as tech-friendly.


Which will win? My guess is all of the above, and they’ll be such overlap between the various flavors of wireless access that we’ll largely stop thinking about it. Wireless will become something akin to cellular service, taken largely for granted with a bit of behind-the-scenes technological help. We’ll spend most of our time hooked into our home network or other networks our ISP’s struck interoperability deals with. Should such a network not be available, our devices will seek out free signals, or tell us additional access fees will apply.

What will we pay? That depends. Most of us, I bet, will pay about what we pay today, but we’ll get much higher download and upload speeds. But those of us who either don’t want or don’t need such bells and whistles will do just fine with free access provided by cities — or ad-supported access from businesses.

“When first introduced, [air-conditioning] was a luxury item,” Mr. Spiegel notes. “Stores that installed it saw a benefit. As it became more available, more and more stores added it and it became more of a cost of doing business.”

So it will be with wireless. And as with air-conditioning, we’ll be startled to find ourselves going without now and again. We’ll even feel nostalgic about it.”