Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
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
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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.
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
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.
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