Is Wi-Fi a good thing for smartphone users? Is it a human rights question, where every one with a phone should be entitled to access Wi-Fi or should we avoid Wi-Fi and resist the mobile operators who are trying to offload us from their networks? Arenít the operators just looking for a solution that they should really fix themselves?
Thereís been a lot of questions and controversy associated with Wi-Fi. Tammy Parker, in her Fierce Wireless article ďWi-Fi offloading: Who controls your handset?Ē talks about client-centric network management by the operator where the operator becomes involved in managing which networks (cellular or Wi-Fi) customers access. Some might say that this gives the operator too much control ďBig BrotherĒ style. On the other hand, in the UK, the governmentís broadband plans, has been criticized for excluding underserved communities by focusing on speed rather than giving universal access.
For me, the answer lies in what we all are looking when we pick up our phones, namely high speed broadband access for making calls, checking email, and getting onto the Internet. A connection thatís always on and always there. And maybe thatís the basic human right we are talking about here. The reality is that Wi-Fi can provide a better user experience in terms of bandwidth and indoor coverage (i.e. speed) as well as reduce 3G data usage thus saving money for those of us not on an unlimited 3G data plan.
Youíve also got to consider security. Secure Wi-Fi authentication initiated from the mobile operator is more secure than open access Wi-Fi or putting security into the Wi-Fi operators hands in my opinion. With Hotspot 2.0 and tunneled access, carriers can help the device make intelligent decisions about what services to offload and when. If all devices are trying to offload onto Wi-Fi then Wi-Fi connections may get congested. The Wi-Fi network should alert the device and let the mobile operator network back off Wi-Fi once itís congested and try again later. In the meantime, we would be back on 3G until it makes sense to switch to Wi-Fi again.
In all of this, something to consider is that we users donít know which cell site we connect to or that we only connect to 3G and not 2G when we use our smart phones. I certainly donít want to be bothered by that level of detail and prefer leaving cell site selection to the operator. But, where does cell site selection end and Wi-Fi selection start?
As mobile data usage continues to grow next generation connectivity in the form of LTE will not decelerate Wi-Fi usage. Analyst firm, Informa found that the single most important offload technology for LTE networks would be Wi-Fi at 37 percent of its survey vote compared to femtocells at 11 percent.
The bottom line for me is that accessing high speed Wi-Fi can only be good so, long as it is done securely and efficiently by the operator and lets me get on with the things I want to do such as staying connected to find out do I pick up dinner on my way home this evening.
-Aidan Dillon founded Accuris Networks in 2003 as CEO, and currently serves as CTO.
They can't have it boh ways.
Either offer smartphnes without the monthly fee and alow people to only use WiFi.
Or prorate the servce based on QOS.
But we as consumers would need legal based (think new law) QOS metrics to keep them honest.
The question comes down to who wants control.
Operators want to maximize their profit while consumers want to maximize their bandwidth and to reduce their cost. Security is one big push from consumers that operators are leveraging to convince consumers to pay. Google WiFi in mountain view is free for open access. If you look into better bandwidth and security, you will have to pay.
Regulatory division of most governments requires operators to be able to monitor telephone conversation for homeland security reason. I am sure similar regulation applies to ISP. In addition, the world has changed drastically. A lot of new generation are volunteering information. Do we really have security concerns here? Of course there is. The best option to us will be using tunneling protocol and encryption to protect our conversation. What would you do?
: And maybe thatís the basic human right we are talking about here.
Customer right perhaps, but certainly not a human right. One of the things that seems to have precipitated the assault on human rights in our times is the trivialization of that concept to mean everything and thus depriving it of meaning. The concept of human rights has changed from being intrinsic and something to be safeguarded by governments (see the Declaration of Independence) to privileges dispensed by the government to certain segments of the population for political purposes.
But perhaps what's needed for the Wi-Fi offload question is a GPS type user choice of whether to select the "road with the least traffic" or not as desired. The user paying the bill should have the choice; it should not be dictated by the carrier.