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The Gathering Wave of Wirelessness

Today’s papers seem full of encouraging news about the wireless revolution. T-Mobile will double the number of Wi-Fi hotspots it has installed around the world, from 12,200 to 25,000, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal…
June 13, 2005

Today’s papers seem full of encouraging news about the wireless revolution.

  • T-Mobile will double the number of Wi-Fi hotspots it has installed around the world, from 12,200 to 25,000, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal says T-Mobile announced today that its hotspots have 450,000 paying customers. The average time spent per login increased from 23 minutes in 2003 to 64 minutes during the first five months of 2005.
  • In certain cities, free wireless Internet service at coffeeshops has become so popular that some cafe owners are pulling the plug on Wi-Fi at certain times of day and on weekends. Laptop users, apparently, can be somewhat antisocial, and owners would like to restore some measure of conviviality. While losing Internet access at your favorite cafe would certainly be a bummer, I think the computers-in-cafes kerfuffle is just a sign that society is still trying to work out the proper boundaries for engaging in continuous computing.
  • SOMA Networks, a San Francisco startup that wants to solve the “last mile” problem by setting up wireless Internet connections to homes, announced today that it has raised $50 million in venture capital, bringing its total VC investment to $175 million. SOMA’s technology is based on W-CDMA cellular communications, but increases its speed tenfold using data compression and other techniques.
  • Prices for Wi-Fi enabled laptops continue to fall. Dell’s Inspiron 2200, an entry-level notebook computer, is selling this week for $639 (less than I paid for my last desktop!). And reasonably-equipped desktops have now dropped below $300. A Dell spokesman told the Wall Street Journal’s Lee Gomes that “the cost of the components that make up a PC drop an average of half a percent per week.”
  • According to Bloomberg, Texas Instruments is bouncing back from a rough first quarter and expects to sell a record number of chips for cell phones in the second quarter. Meanwhile, market research firm Gartner raised its forecast for mobile-phone sales in 2005 from 720 million to 750 million.
  • Another interesting tidbit: This week The Los Angeles Times will launch “wikitorials”, online editorials that readers can edit.
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