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Will Hot Spots Grow Cold?

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, April 1, 2004

Will hot spots grow cold? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Hot spots are public Internet access points using 802.11 technology…which typically has a range of a few hundred feet. T-Mobile, for instance, will sell you wireless access while you're sitting in your local Starbucks. But what if you could have high speed wireless access without those 802.11 limits. Verizon Wireless thinks its new EVDO technology…will find lots of takers. Chief technology officer Dick Lynch…

"We are wirelessly enabling data service to people at speeds that truly would be considered broadband access. I'm advertising that this service will have a three to five hundred kilobit throughput."

At the recent cell phone industry trade show in Atlanta, I got a chance to use the service and the reality lived up to the promise. Whether that experience holds up when large numbers of users are connected at the same time remains to be seen. About the impact on hot spots, Lynch says…

"Well I don't want to denigrate the hot spots, but frankly, from my perspective they're luke warm at this point. We don't see a lot of our customers demanding a lot of WiFi hot spot service in public."

Even though, 802.11 is still perhaps the best choice for networking in many homes and offices. Verizon Wireless is selling EVDO service in test markets for about 80 dollars a month.