By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2004-10-28 Print this article Print

-Fi Phones"> Wi-Fi phones are almost with us. The Wi-Fi Alliance has started testing 802.11 devices that are primarily phones for compatibility with standard Wi-Fi access points. If you have a GPRS phone with Wi-Fi on it, youll understand that things will slow down when you move out of range of the fast broadband link and start depending on GSM-based data. But if you have a 3G phone that does the same thing, youll complain. Shapiras solution is, frankly, a bodge. He sells servers to the mobile operators, which optimize content. They do it by formatting the entire page for WAP in a single item, which they then stream continuously down to the device. Excellent and clever! But it only solves the problem of Web pages. WAP is an important thing to fix, but goodness knows there are plenty of other things that people want from mobile data.
For example, try shifting a file over FTP. The handshake sequence there was designed by people who assumed virtually zero latency. It sometimes works, though its tediously slow. And sometimes it just times out over GPRS.
Sprint plans to spend $1 billion on a 3G upgrade. Click here to read more. Then how about people who want VPN connections? Im not going to be very happy if you tell me that the only way to move data fast over the VPN is either to go "in clear"—so that Flash Networks can see whether its voice or WAP or something else, and shape the traffic—or to buy a Flash router for my IT department and put it behind the firewall. And of course, all the time in the background, you have the uncomfortable voice of Flarion, harping on and on about 50 millisecond latency on its Flash-OFDM encoded networks, using the same spectrum as the worlds mobile operators have. Can the huge investment made in 3G be turned into a return? I really find myself wondering ... Read Guy Kewneys other recent columns about trends in mobile and wireless technology. Check out eWEEK.coms Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis.

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