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

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Tue Feb 2 18:35:41 PST 2010

Clarifications for Mr. Conner, etc.

> I think this is where the confusion happened. I know I didn't  
> understand what you were talking about. In my line of work [1] we  
> have a customer who does WAN Wi-Fi (wireless networking that's  
> measured in miles, not feet), and our own network has what amounts  
> to a 50 mile ethernet cable (connecting computers in Boca Raton,  
> Florida to computers down in Miami [2]. Without further  
> clarification, it was difficult to understand what you were saying.

That's great and all, but let me clarify.  Apologies if the sloppy  
terminology was mistaken for something else.  By "WAN" --- in the  
above discussion *only*, and my assumption was that this would be  
clear from context --- I was referring to portable devices w/ 3G  
cellular broadband interfaces.  The proposition was that, really, you  
don't need more than *one* device w/ both Wi-Fi and 3G interfaces.   
Everything else really only needs Wi-Fi, for most use cases, assuming  
the one that's got both can serve as a portable router between its own  
super-local Wi-Fi network and 3G.  When in range of some better Wi-Fi - 
 > broadband connectivity, that dual purpose device (and all the  
others) wouldn't need to use 3G.

That clear now?

Re:  removable media, it's just a losing idea and always has been:   
media, formats, acceptable capacities, connectors, drive technologies,  
etc. etc. etc. all change so quickly that it's been a loser for  
years.  It's just not "durable" (in the long-term sense, i.e., useful  
for more than a few years.)  That hasn't kept millions of people from  
spending billions of dollars on such storage over the years, and  
consequently losing it.  It also hasn't kept Sony and others for  
attempting, repeatedly, to lock a market using one kind of proprietary  
media and storage technology after another.  It's a vicious cycle.   
(Obligatory disclosure;  yeah, there are those rare occasions when  
it's useful --- bricked device rescue, for example.  So yeah, I've got  
a thumb drive or two for those kinds of uses myself, despite being  
"philosophically" opposed to the idea of removable media in general...)

As for the whole ethernet / wi-fi thing, that might be a reasonable  
extrapolation, but really I'm not too offended by that.  But then, I  
don't have to buy a contract with either one of those... ;-)  (The  
subtext of my objection about 3G +/- Wi-Fi is that, given their  
druthers, I'm sure the carriers would love to force the device  
manufacturers to *only* put 3G interfaces into *everything* --- and of  
course you'd need a contract, or at least a line-item on your bill,  
for each of those.)  I guess in part I just object to the waste of  
having radios in every (or most, or even multiple) devices (and paying  
the hardware cost there, marginal though it might be --- and Stephen,  
you do realize the device manufacturer price-add relative to the  
wholesale cost-add is in the 10x range, right?) when that radio is  
useless w/o a contract / additional business relationship with  
somebody who answers the other end of that signal.  ONE such  
relationship, and one such device, is technically sufficient for most  
use cases (even the multi-device ones) I can come up, certainly for  
myself and I would assume for most folks.  (Stephen's objections  
notwithstanding;  though I don't actually understand why he assumes,  
for example, that using your phone as your 3G->Wi-Fi router would  
preclude its use as your phone at any given moment...)

Re: the dumb / smart network deal, but of course.  This was nailed  
years ago by a sometime friend of mine, who subsequently got fired for  
taking the trouble to speak truth to power. ;-)  For my own little  
part in this, my first company made its first nut *proving* the  
point;  four scruffy guys and a POP client killed a 9-figure  
investment in rather stupid (ahem) "smart network" technology by  
AT&T.  That my argument wouldn't sit well with the telcos doesn't, of  
course, invalidate it.  In fact, I'd say that it supports it. ;-) :-)


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