A short while ago, I wrote a column for the E-Commerce Times entitled “VoIP Here To Stay.” In it, I talked about WiFi technology and its impact on VoIP. This article goes further in that it explores the widespread adoption of WiFi technology and what it bodes for the future of technology.
What Is WiFi?
WiFi means wireless fidelity — the continuous transmission of high-bandwidth video and multimedia information. It serves the LAN (local area network) market. Simply put, it connects data devices with wireless transmissions.
In other words, it enables computers to “talk” to the Internet without being connected to a modem, DSL or cable. Instead of “talking” via wires and cables, the computer is “talking” over the wireless Ethernet.
Examples of WiFi’s Impact
Here are some examples of how WiFi could change the world.
If your town or city were completely WiFi, here’s what you could expect. Businesses could stream and receive all sorts of broadband video and multimedia information to and from any spot in the world without modems or cables connecting them to the Internet. In other words, they could have complete mobility with the two-way transference of business data.
For example, suppose that you wanted to monitor certain of your business’ locations for security purposes. You could set up video cameras at the desired locations, stream the data to your office, and monitor those locations via WiFi. For that matter, monitoring could be done from any employee PDA, or any employee vehicle.
Additionally, your local police department could have “on board” computers in their cars so that police officers could have access to mug shots and other data, all in an instant.
Also, all of the residents of your city could throw away their modems or cancel their cable/DSL contracts. This means that everyone with a computer could go online from anywhere in the city without any cumbersome connections.
Other Benefits of WiFi
If you owned a chain of retail stores, and they were all within a discrete geographical area, WiFi could be just the thing for your business. Let me explain.
Suppose that a business had 20 locations within a city. Also, let’s say that the business keeps minimum inventories at all of its locations. Deliveries to these locations would be critical and time-sensitive.
With WiFi, a truck driver could look at a computer screen in the vehicle and determine which locations needed the inventory most. He/she could then start deliveries according to the logical sequence dictated by the need of the locations.
The inventories at each location could be kept constantly up-to-date and their current status could be streamed to all interested parties, e.g., truck drivers. Consequently, the truck drivers could get real-time information on which locations should be serviced first.
Cities Going WiFi
Sound far-fetched? It isn’t. Philadelphia has recently announced that it is going WiFi. It will provide WiFi to all of the residents and businesses who want it.
Philadelphia is not the only area to be going WiFi. I recently read that a Sarasota, Florida, company is delivering WiFi technology to area businesses that subscribe to its services.
It shouldn’t be surprising that entire cities are going WiFi, since many college campuses are already totally WiFi. This means that students can access their computers anywhere on campus, even under a tree.
Of course, the local telecom providers are not happy about this situation. They say that cities will never be able to provide adequate service. They are also saying that it is very difficult for even them to turn a profit on WiFi, so how could a governmental institution possibly handle such an economic challenge?
Whether the telecoms are right or wrong about this situation will remain to be seen.
In my opinion, the implications for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) are enormous. VoIP must have broadband. Without it, there is no VoIP. WiFi provides wireless broadband. Think about it. Someday we could all have a portable VoIP phone that would basically allow calls to anywhere in the world at the price of a local call.
I have to believe that the large telecoms are quite worried about this inevitable eventuality. Just think, our cell phone will, some day, give us worldwide service at local rates. Kind of scary for the telecoms, isn’t it?
Of course, WiFi will bring to our standard phone service multimedia, streaming video, voice mail and all of those other wonderful things that come with WiFi.
When Will WiFi Change the World?
I recently asked a client of mine if he agreed with my prognostication that the entire United States will be WiFi within 10 years. His answer was, “Absolutely!” This man should know because he is in the VoIP business and WiFi will play an integral part in the future of his company.
WiFi means continuous wireless broadband transmission. With broadband comes the wonderful flow of enormous amounts of information that can be used for governmental, business and personal purposes. It will be quite a different world than we are experiencing today.
I can’t wait! Good luck.
Theodore F. di Stefano is a founder and managing partner at Capital Source Partners, which deals in bringing small-cap companies public. He also is a frequent speaker on the subject of financial advice for small businesses as well as the IPO process. He can be contacted at [email protected].