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Hi WiFi, Bye Cellphone 24 March 2003 Edition
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Perhaps the most exciting new piece of technology to appear in recent years is low-cost wireless Internet, or WiFi as it's become known.

Now the Net is no lonter tied to an expensive and cumbersome matrix of copper or optical fibre cables -- your data can be broadcast from point to point using ultra-high frequency radiowaves.

What's more, the proliferation of tiny low-cost WiFi cards has meant that an increasing number of laptops and PDAs are now WiFi-capable and this in turn has lead to a growth in the number of WiFi access points.


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A number of cafes, hotels and other locations are offering patrons the ability to connect their WiFi-enabled computers to the Net simply by pulling up a chair and logging on.

As the number of these WiFi zones increases, how long will it be before they offer the same type of coverage in urban areas as existing cellphone technology?

Instead of whipping out your cellphone and paying 50-70 cents per minute to talk, maybe it will soon be much quicker to fire up your PDA and use VOIP (voice over internet) to make your calls.

Readers Say
(updated irregularly)
  • Cost of Wireless IP... - Mark
  • WiFi... - Dave
  • Bluetooth + WiFi +... - David
  • WiFi etc... - Cliff
  • Wifi Networks... - Kriss
  • WiFi VOIP... - Andy
  • WIFI networks... - PaulW
  • Have Your Say
    At the moment, it's far more likely that you'll use your cellphone as an email client -- but I'm thinking that it won't be long before you're using your ultra-portable computer/email client to place phone calls via WiFi.

    Could the next entrepreneurial success story in NZ (and around the world) arrive in the form of someone who sets up a formal WiFi network with nodes strategically placed throughout major population areas?

    The creation of such a network could even see a new generation of cellphone technology appear. Within the year we could see cellphones that offer not only support for existing GSM/GPRS standards but also VOIP using WiFi.

    Whenever you wanted to place a call, such a phone could be configured to try the lowest-cost option (WiFi) first and use traditional cellphone carriers only as a last resort.

    Or will the cellular carriers such as Telecom NZ and Vodafone twig to the huge potential here and decided to build their own urban WiFi networks?

    Whatever happens, one thing's for sure -- WiFi is changing the way we use the Net in a very positive way.

    Do you have an opinion on today's column or want to add something? Have your say

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