Competition | Cost
So far the industry seems be settling into the IEEE standard, 802.11b.
The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) has introduced their
WIFI standard (Wireless Fidelity) for a range of wireless networking products.
These products are easy to use and provide speeds up to 10mbs but are limited
to 500 feet.
of WIFI certified Products
The cellular phone companies already have a larger network in place
throughout major cities. As they upgrade their towers to 3G (third
generation networks), cellular users will enjoy features similar to that
of other wireless networks built into their mobile phones. However, 3G
networks only offer speeds up to 70kbs, about twice that of a 56k modem.
The 802.11b transmitters are considerably faster than 3G but with
less range. They are also easier to install than a cellular tower,
require no license, and can be maintained by the consumer.
Cost | Competition
Wireless access points and network adapters with a 300 ft. range are continuing
to come down in price. Linksys has an access point available for
$150 with adapters around $100.
Both Palm and the Compaq Ipag handheld PDA’s allow users to connect
to the Internet with wireless modems through cellular networks. Sprint
PCS offers a Samsung & Palm hybrid phone for about $500.
Availability | Competition
While availability is still very limited for wide area networks,
personal and local area networks are expanding at the consumer level.
Several "neighbors" have setup short range wireless access points all over
the island of Hawaii. Users can access the Internet while sitting
on the beach.
Starbucks Coffee will allow its patrons to connect to the Internet
at each of its 4000 locations. Coffee drinkers may check their email
for as little at $15.95 a month.
Hotels and airports are beginning to offer the same wireless connectivity.
Hardware components are available at electronics stores or online.