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“Too Long A Sacrifice”: Thoughts on Muni Wi-Fi

September 3, 2007 - 0 Comments

Readers Note: this is second blog relating to thoughts on my dual-mode device.”Hearts with one purpose aloneThrough summer and winter seemEnchanted to a stoneTo trouble the living stream.” – W.B. Yeats, “Easter 1916″I am in a literary mood this labor day and I was thinking about the seminal poem on the Irish revolution, whereby W.B. Yeats noted that”too long a sacrifice/can make a stone of the heart.” To this, the Muni Wi-Fi cottage industry, of which we at Cisco are, to be fair, members, has wrestled with business models and performance claims. With the delay of the much heralded San Francisco network, and its attendant issues all around to service providers, digital inclusion partners, and, yes, equipment vendors, it is clear we have now ended Muni Wi-Fi’s”summer of discontent.”Yet I do not think we are at the unremarkable end of city-wide Wi-Fi networks. Indeed, now that we have burned off the ephemeral and seemingly endless dialogues about”advertising-led” networks (can you imagine, we spend our lives DVRing all of television so we can be assaulted by more ads when we are out and about???), we can get back to the real goals and financial models of these networks.Yes, they are networks. They have network economics. Lots of people have to use them for real reasons for them to make sense. Increasingly, in the Web 2.0/collaborative world, the reason might have less to do with web-surfing then with being able to create mobile social networks. My top use of my dual-mode include new messaging apps that are rapidly replacing email in my communications pantheon.Thus the avalanche of dual-mode devices, including my trusty Nokia e61i, starts to kick in. These are exactly the kinds of devices, including the lovely Apple iPhone that can take advantage of these networks. Connecting ME/YOU to specific kinds of information, adding a real-time nature to social/business collaboration might be a (cough) killer app. Increasingly I use my dual mode for downloading forms of video (training, entertainment, etc.) It is an ideal medium for 2-3 minute clips.So speed does count. I am now just starting to get reports of people using the iPhone on our WLAN mesh networks across the country. The superior download speeds of these networks compared to the Edge cellular networks make for a more compelling surfing/ downloading experience. And as HPDSA/3G becomes more pervasive, the bar becomes notched up just another level. Guess what? 802.11n comes into Muni networks, next. What a great thing for users!To paraphrase Twain: rumors on demise of Muni Wi-Fi networks are much exaggerated.

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