I have come to the conclusion that the world (or, at least, America) is seriously lacking in wireless wide area networks. Yesterday, I read an article hyping 2.5G cellular data networks! Yeay! Big whoop! 3G was over-hyped. It's big in Japan, but when executed here, the phone companies cut a lot of corners. Many of them do not have data access AT ALL, much less high-speed data access. So, the telco executives came up with the term 2.5G to kind of save face.
Let us say that 3G actually arrives magically. What are you going to do with it? How useless will it be? Sure, you can surf the web really fast and watch movies on a little 5cm screen, but what use is that? You are going to hook it to your computer right? How? Bluetooth! Welcome to bottleneck Hell! Bluetooth is only 56K in speed, guys. That's like accessing your super-fast T1 uber-network through a dialup modem. You are only going to get 56K worth of speed.
What about 802.11b and 802.11g, you say? They are fine. They are wonderful technology. They work perfectly–on a LAN. They are designed for a local area network: your home, your office, the Starbucks down the road. 802.11 was not designed for always-on access anywhere. You have to be 50m from a base station, depending on conditions. Sure, lots of places will have 802.11b–many will be closed, some will be open and free for all, and the majority will be metered (like T-Mobile's Starbucks installations). With so many different people running these metered networks, you will need an account on each, which kind of defeats the purpose of a wireless wide area network. I would rather have one bill for wireless internet instead of paying $50 a month to T-Mobile for unlimited access, $10 a month to the owner of the local independant coffee house (with a self-installed wavelan and DSL line), etc.
Rochochet is making a comeback. Unfortunately, it is only in two cities (San Diego and Denver), with no immediate plans to grow until the company that purchased the network when it went bankrupt can figure out what to do with it. Ricochet also uses a rather slow, antiquated (by today's standards) technology–meaning a connection not much faster than a dialup. Richochet came and went. A dead horse by any other name…
This does not leave us with much else. We have cellphones with GPRS and GPRS modems for laptops, but this is not too speedy either. We can hope the cellphone companies will roll out a REAL G3 network, along with G3 modems, but that looks to be a long way off. For now, I will stick with my trusty 802.11b and hope the future holds a better solution.
Okay, now that I have that out of me, thanks for listening.