Ryan Kim from the Tech Chronicles looks to see how the U.S. compares in broadband service to other top countries. While the raw population of users in the US is still higher than many countries, the speed and price of our broadband service is barely mediocre.
While there are some that argue that the United States has unique attributes that play a factor but are not included in ranking systems, others use the ranking to call attention to national legislation regarding broadband service. If we don’t address broadband service via consolidated policy and open access, small to medium sized companies may look elsewhere than the United States for affordable telecommunications.
Policy and legislation seem to also play a critical role in deciding which of the currently competing wireless Internet technologies will spearhead the U.S. Internet endeavor. Tom Evslin at CircleID examines the Wifi-Wimax debate. Using down to earth metaphors his recent article clarifies the strengths and weaknesses of each technology and gives a brief informative history of each. In the end, Evslin concludes that in the struggle over the future of wireless Internet service, we may have an age-old case of politics determining which technology wins out.
From an engineering perspective Evslin sees the strengths and weaknesses of Wimax and Wifi to stem from the way devices and users interact with access points. To illustrate the difference between Wimax and Wifi he evokes the image of a classroom. Wifi is an uncontrolled chaotic environment in which every device struggles for ‘airtime’: “the obnoxious kid…in the front of the class”. Wimax on the other hand, allocates a specific amount of airtime to each device. Evslin views Wimax as Wifi, but centrally controlled and ordered. He claims it is unknown as of yet whether this increased control will help or hinder Wimax’s ability to provide high quality service. He is skeptical of this centralized command.
Traditionally, Wimax was meant for large range geographic areas whereas Wifi has most often been deployed for short-range locations. However, Evslin points out that Wifi is capable of the long-range service area Wimax is intended for. The battle therefore moves to the policy arena and which technology will have access to covetable radio frequency spectrums.
However, the U.S. still seems to be running into troubles implementing any successful metropolitan wireless network. Jacqueline Emigh from Betanews reports on the continual failure of Municipal WiFi projects across the country to successfully execute a business model. From Portland, Oregon to Toledo, Ohio and beyond, cities and Wi-Fi providers have been running into a continual obstacle course in providing free wireless Internet to city residents.
Earthlink, one of the most ambitious municipal wifi pioneers with projects in at least thirteen cities, reported that regardless of revenue model municipal wifi was infeasible. Neither wifi providers nor municipalities seem willing or capable to assume the brunt of responsibility for realizing the dream of free urban wifi. A solid cooperation has yet to be formed.