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« Germany Funds Wireless Car Development | Main | Irish Sandwich Shops to Get Wi-Fi »

December 24, 2004

Combined Wi-Fi/3G: Not There Yet

By Nancy Gohring

The complaints of an early combined Wi-Fi/3G user are typical for a first generation service, but maddening enough that operators need to start moving in the right direction: At this stage, hotspot operators and cellular carriers should really be doing a much better job of forming roaming agreements of the kind that make it seamless for users to walk into just about any hotspot and get online for a single, reasonable monthly fee. Subscription prices for individual operators are just too high and ubiquity too limited to expect users to sign up for service from multiple hotspot operators.

This user, who has a combined Wi-Fi/3G card from Vodafone, doesn’t realize much benefit from having the combined card. While he gets a single bill for his 3G access and use of Openzone hotspots, he still, of course, has to pay separately for access to other hotspots. He also has a lot of complaints about using the 3G network to access email and other online services as compared to using Wi-Fi.

This user also offers an interesting if unlikely call for hotspot operators to form roaming deals with mobile operators. He suggests that if hotspot operators don’t let their customer roam to 3G networks, using a SIM-based Wi-Fi card, they’ll lose the customer relationship because customers will instead sign up for the Wi-Fi access through their mobile operator, which will bill them. That’s likely the way it will work, however. The mobile operators are not going to lose that billing relationship with their customer so I find it unlikely that they’ll open their networks to roaming by Wi-Fi customers. The combined services will most likely originate at the mobile operator, who will bill for the combined offering.

Posted by nancyg at December 24, 2004 10:35 AM

Categories: Cellular Convergence

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