By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2005-01-11 Print this article Print

Where Canopy falls down is pretty simple. It allows a low-capital ISP to go into a territory where standard broadband isnt available and provide a 500K-bit link into houses and business premises. But then, it turns into an ordinary Ethernet socket and its up to the subscriber to decide whether to stick a wire or a wireless access point into the socket. That, of course, is the real limitation of WiMax, too. Intels claim that it will work in portable devices is a fantasy. But its a fantasy that reflects what the market wants.
What we (users) require is not just to have access to our own broadband socket when we are at home; what we want is access in a wide area. Not just at my desk at work, but also in the meeting room over the block, in the hotel downtown and in the coffee store.
And the solution to this is a neighborhood mesh. Intel has offered several publicity papers on its R&D in mesh and has adopted a studiously stringent "Not Invented Here" approach to existing mesh technologies. Motorola has bought Mesh Networks. For the moment, Motorola is saying that Mesh Networks technology is seen as a corporate solution. Indeed, it will work well like that, given the cost. And when you ask Motorola about rival, widely deployed and successful mesh systems such as LocustWorlds, marketing executives retreat into theoretical objections (which have been shown in the field to be irrelevant) about latency and bottlenecks. But a mesh network with multiple backhaul systems is the way forward. A system with multiple distribution nodes—either Canopy or WiMax would do fine—and shared point-to-point parasitic networking for the wide area would allow me to do my column in the local pub, rather than here where the street repair gang is using a jackhammer and a stone saw, and driving me nuts. And I wouldnt have to join five hot-spot providers to do it. It would be virtually free. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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