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The Outdoor Shoot-Out That Did Not Occur

- November 29, 2006 - 1 Comment

Today Cisco made an announcement about a very large Wi-Fi Mesh network that is going to be deployed by SingTel and the InfoCom authority of Singapore than reflect on the news, I would like to fast foward 3 years and try to tackle a burning question in the marketplace today: will outdoor Wi-Fi canablize cellular services.My personal belief is absolutely not. We are increasingly moving into an era where the issue the issue is not Cellular or Wi-Fi, but Cellular and Wi-Fi. Fast forward 3 years, and it will be Cellular and Wi-Fi and WiMAX. As devices become smarter, able to move seamless across differ RF and Wired network networks, increasingly being able to deliver seamless, un-interrupted services, we will see these services coexist.Much of the investment going into public, unlicensed services are predicated upon a range of new users for data services. Over time, voice is likely to come as well. Client technology will improve and also contribute to supporting latency sensitive applications.The interesting issue, is that the spectrum, interference, reliability and operations issues are common across these networks. There are benefits and pitfalls of operating at different frequencies (e.g., higher frequency, smaller cell size) as well as if the spectrum is shared or dedicated. To wit, much of the hype around WiMAX is around whether unlicensed WiMAX will take off. For many of the applications being discussed, licensed WiMAX makes more sense. Wi-Fi, to wit, was concieved for a busy environment where users must live with interference within the efforts to share the spectrum established by the standard.One of the myths during the early Internet era was would it kill television. It turned out people consumed more media, not less. Cable is killing network television. It is about choice..What do you think readers? As Mark Twain noted: “Plain question and plain answer make the shortest road out of most perplexities.”

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  1. Alan,Fully concur with you that going forward it will be WiFi AND Cellular AND WiMax. Couple follow-on points:1. although these technologies will co-exist and even inter-operate, service providers that adopt a combination approach will find themselves in an advantageous position when users with multi-radio devices start hopping back and forth en masse.2. there will be a shift in network control - there will be a new set of service providers that will compete against the incumbents. This additional competition in services will be good for the market.3. One technology alternative will be better than another for a specific use case at a specific business moment (e.g. cellular-based calling better than wired calling when out of the office; WiFi-based huge data downloads better than 3G-based downloads; WiFi-based in-store shopping transaction - example from your blog, etc.). This will be offset in another use case.Sorry, wasn't that brief.