Mobile phones have disrupted the pay phone business for years, but the most clever solution for doing something with all that payphone infrastructure is Verizon's recycling of them into WiFi access points. While long distance WiFi currently in development might reach far enough, and therefore mean that lots of little WiFi spots aren't needed (ie one in every old payphone) the reality is that in cities, there are lots of barriers and other noise interference issues that keep those estimated "lab" distances down.
One example of this is with RFID where the reader manufacturers estimate a 5-foot distance (with the one I've looked at), but dust in the air and other noise cause the reader distance to shrink to around 18 inches. Same is true with WiFi. My first home WiFi setup worked around 20' but the second system I use now has 100' in one direction, but only about 30' in another because of various physical barriers and noise, but it does better cover the house now. Maybe having lots of little access points in certain densely built spaces makes sense for the pay phone recycling. I would really like to see better cell and WiFi coverage maps than we currently have, over more places, with more reliable data about coverage, to figure out how and where to deploy effectively.Posted by Mary Hodder at January 5, 2004 12:30 PM | TrackBack