updated 04:30 pm EST, Wed February 28, 2007
Carriers Killing Wi-Fi
Cell service providers in the US are attempting to muddy the waters in an attempt to kill public Wi-Fi access, according to John Dvorak. The columnist notes that American carriers seem to be deliberately sowing confusion, leading customers to believe that expensive 2G wireless is equal to (or even synonymous with) Wi-Fi. Campaigns to promote cell-based broadband appeared at roughly the same time as some of the first Wi-Fi-capable phones arrived in stores -- falsely presenting the costlier cellular Internet access as the only real option.
Many cellular subscribers don't even know that their phones (including the future iPhone) have Internet access, he said.
The goal of the businesses is to discourage cities from establishing municipal Wi-Fi access, Dvorak claims. Such services effectively replace cellular access with local Internet connections, letting phone owners browse the Web or use voice over IP to make calls. The pundit suggests that many carriers will lobby area governments to deliberately block public Wi-Fi; in tandem with customer ignorance, Dvorak says, those carriers will try to convince citizens that only paid, private wireless access a cellular provider is useful.
"You can be sure that the local politicians will cave on this," he says. "And we can forget free municipal Wi-Fi and Skype phones."