Parallel Lines: New Wi-Fi world

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From netbooks and iPods to cameras and digital picture frames, seemingly every new gadget today is incorporating some form of Wi-Fi enabled connectivity.

Global industry analysts recently predicted that Wi-Fi enabled consumer electronics will reach 3.7 billion worldwide by 2015. This rapid global adoption of Wi-Fi is leading to a significant increase in the demand for ubiquitous access to the internet.

To better understand this shift one must consider the end-user experience. Now being “connected” is more than just a convenience, it is becoming a necessity to make our gadgets function properly, inspiring many to question how they access the World Wide Web on a daily basis.

Public Wi-Fi hotspots, although popular, are often tricky to find when in unfamiliar areas. Additionally, attitudes are changing as users identify more security threats when logged onto these networks.

Hackers have quickly found ways to pull unencrypted wireless data from the air and set-up false, or “Evil Twin”, hotspots to steal data and spread malicious viruses through public Wi-Fi networks. As this hampers user confidence in these networks, many are beginning to give up on these public hotspots altogether.

Those in the UK now face a new challenge with the recent passage of the Digital Economy Bill, aimed at cracking down on copyright infringement.

The strict logging and reporting restrictions imposed on internet service providers, which these public hotspots can now be considered, are leading many local Wi-Fi providers to question whether providing access to patrons will be worth the trouble.

These factors, combined with the desire for a truly mobile experience, are encouraging customers to look elsewhere.

Full article in Mobile News issue 463 (May 10, 2010).

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