Wi-Fi, Mi-FI and Broadband Access
Before we continue our discussion of Personal Area Networks (PAN), I should note that Julius Genachowski was confirmed as the Chairman of the FCC last week. This wasn't a surprise but it was anxiously awaited. He will have a lot to do in a very short time.
One of the items we have been discussing has been the rollout of broadband to rural areas and the increase of capacity in urban areas. I wonder what the impact of Mi-Fi will be on broadband accessibility.
If anyone can establish a personal hotspot wherever there is cellular coverage, then it becomes a matter of the cost of the service as to whether it can replace landline-oriented broadband. A Mi-Fi device such as the Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 creates a Wi-Fi hotspot. Once created, the hotspot can be used in the same fashion as Wi-Fi locations in airports, hotels and the ever popular, Starbucks. Sprint is promoting the service as a mobile hotspot that can connect up to five people to the Internet. I am not sure that if I subscribe, I want a bunch of people riding my service but it will also allow for the connection of up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices like laptops, MP3 players, handsets and electronic/Internet tablets.
Sprint will sell the Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year service agreement. Plans are either $59.99 per month for mobile broadband only, or $149.99 per month for the Simply Everything voice/text/data + mobile broadband. Both plans include up to 5GB per month and a 5-cents-per-megabyte overage fee.Not to be out done, Verizon is offering the same device with the same plan.
It will be interesting to see the uptake for this new product offering. I, currently, have an air-card, which works fine. But, being able to create a hotspot to share with colleagues when traveling or outside the office would be worth considering. This will not replace the expansion or deployment of basic broadband to the home or office. However, perhaps it should in some areas. It would leverage existing infrastructure, and mobility is far more interesting than static connectivity. While obvious for work environments, I usually use wireless even at home to get out of the house to work by the pool. Sometimes life is hard ...
Enjoy the Fourth of July Holiday! See you next Monday with another new recipe!