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Wherefores of Wi-Fi

Also, defining Verizon.

As a Southern California wireless hotspot network provider, we’re pretty intimate with most of the issues that Phil Davies brings up in his article (“In Search Of HotSpots”). However, there is more to the Wi-Fi story than meets the eye. When you work at the front line of public wireless Internet access you see the reality of the wireless hotspot business, not just the possibility.

When Davies writes that the entrance of major Fortune 1000 companies signals a threat to smaller public Wi-Fi businesses (“Wi-Fry”) such as ourselves, he is making certain assumptions about the “800-pound gorillas” that have yet to be shown to be correct.

The wireless hotspot business has mainly been pioneered by a plethora of small players. Small companies have the agility to tweak and change their business model on the fly in order to find the magic profit formula. The reality is that wireless hotspots require a lot of hands-on love and care to bring in the revenues. Just because you build, it does not mean they will come. Large corporations always have difficulty marketing in such a grass-roots manner.

The public Wi-Fi business can best be compared to the Internet kiosk business. The public Internet kiosk business is composed of many small players. We’ve seen major telco players such as AT&T try to enter this business, but never manage to dominate it. They may encounter the same difficulties in the wireless hotspot business. It is quite possible that the major telcos will end up leaving the hotspot network business to smaller players and just focus on aggregation of these networks through roaming agreements. — Ronan Higgins,, [email protected]

I do production at a radio station, and our engineering department informs me that WAV files are compressed and lossy in sound. They want us to use PCM files–which, if I’m not mistaken, are the same thing, right? Aren’t WAV files completely uncompressed, and therefore exactly the same as CD quality? — A Loyal Reader, Las Vegas, Nev.

When extracted at the fully uncompressed setting (44.1KHz, 16 bits per sample, stereo), the information in a WAV file is identical to that on a CD. It is possible to make a WAV file with specs lower than that, but that’s where lossy compression comes in.

PCM is simply a generic term for the decoding technology used in the creation of WAV files. In making the latter, you’re already using the former. — eds.

Re: “Wireless caution signs”, before you place your final bet on wireless standards, I thought you should know that Verizon (and their substantial footprint) are in the CDMA/CDMA2000 camp rather than in the company of the GSM/GPRS/EDGE crowd where you have them listed. — Ty Shultz, Atlanta

Verizon is not GSM. Not only is it the largest carrier in America, but all of the former parts of Verizon use CDMA-based technology in the United States (GTE, Bell Atlantic and Vodafone/AirTouch.Vodafone is a European carrier that went along with CDMA to have access to the Verizon partnership.) Also, you can’t give GPS coordinates from a cell phone until someone writes a BREW application for their “Get It Now” service…’s E911 only at the moment, as far as I know. Same goes for Sprint, which uses Java. — Jared Coffey

We apologize for the Verizon error. As for giving GPS coordinates, why can’t you just say, “I’m at 44.98N 33.76W”? That’s what I was referring to. — James Mathewson

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