[FoRK] Portable hotspots (or, why the iPad doesn't need 3G / future of Bluetooth questionable?)

Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo ken_ganshirt at yahoo.ca
Tue Feb 2 09:05:44 PST 2010

--- On Tue, 2/2/10, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:

> Have already mentioned by reservations about 3G in the
> iPad.  I'm certainly not going to go down that
> road;  entertained the thought briefly, but have
> concluded that it's stupid.  (Like removable media
> before it, this idea of a direct WAN connection + Wi-Fi in
> every mobile device is daft.  That won't keep millions
> from buying into the notion before they find that the
> friction of having to manage this on lots of devices becomes
> prohibitive.)

I'm a little bit confused (yeah, I know that's more or less my permanent condition but let's say a little more confused than usual). You seem to use WAN to refer to at least two communication technologies. In this first paragraph it seems to refer to a broadband cellular data connection. If true, I agree with your opening objection to having both types of connectivity (broadband cellular data and wi-fi) in the user device.

However, the reality is that there is nothing approaching universal coverage from either broadband cellular data or publicly accessable wi-fi. In at least the short term, if you want to be fairly mobile you really need both. 

There's also the issue of cost. If I'm somewhere away from any public wi-fi hotspot it's worth paying for a cellular broadband connection. But why would I pay such usurious prices for connectivity if I'm within range of a public wi-fi hotspot.

That doesn't mean I like the current need for both types of connectivity in a user device but it needs to be pointed out.

But that's not what confused me. Later in the post you seemed to use the term WAN as synonymous with a WAN based on wi-fi wide-area networking. That's what confused me.

Are you suggesting that core WAN and edge connections should all be wi-fi using a variety of appropriate bits and pieces? If so, I agree.

Or are you suggesting it should include broadband cellular data for the core WAN with the edge technologies all wi-fi, particularly in the user devices? If so, I disagree with this particular solution as long as we need to pay such a high price for cellular data.

BTW, it was your reference to the Verizon Mi-Fi that cemented the confusion because it's mixed-media. It takes a broadband cellular connection and turns it into a portable wi-fi hotspot. Neat. But not cheap.

I agree with a preference for wi-fi for all wireless connections to a user device versus Bluetooth for some and proprietary for rodents, keyboards, etc. It would require that the user device be able to do peer-to-peer wi-fi connections, which most cannot do right now without a lot of screwing around (e.g. I'm sure I could figure out some way to make my netbook and laptop talk directly to each other over wi-fi without a router or switch between them but it wouldn't be simple). Bluetooth provides that capability. 

Is it likely that Bluetooth and propietary wireless connections to the user device are the path of least resistance? E.g. easier to just create more wireless tehcnologies for distance-limited uses than to fight with whoever to get wi-fi (IEEE 802.11*) to do it?


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