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Wi-Fi Roaming and Cell Phone Roaming Options
The Canadian company, Seaboard Group crystal ball is glowing with Wi-Fi predictions. In a recent commentary on this issue, Canadians Cut Their Wires on the Wi-Fi phenomenon, Seaboard Group predicted that by 2007, Wi-Fi hardware equipment and integration services will exceed 800 million with shipments of 1.7 million base stations and 3.2 million access cards.
This prediction is quite impressive. However, these figures do not take into account the computers that have built in Wi-Fi capability, which a new generation consumers will be buying.
What are some of the drawbacks to this huge growth spurt?
- Lack of high security. The Wi-Fi network may not be secure at your local cyber café.
- Public gateways or providers of free Wi-Fi surfing may not invest in leading edge Wi-Fi hardware or routers.
- Wi-Fi hotspots offered to the public are not 100 percent reliable.
What are some of benefits to this blossoming Wi-Fi phenomenon?
- FREE: Everyone loves the fact that they can bring their PDA, smartphone, laptop or Palm device to a Wi-Fi hotspot and not have to pay for Internet connection time.
- The convenience factor: There are over 1000 access points or Wi-Fi hotspots installed by Rogers and Telus mobility in Canada.
- FREE roaming: Normally if you are out of your cell phone roaming area or your home area, and you make a call or connect online the wireless providers will charge you a per minute usage fee. However, if you want to avoid paying expensive overage cell phone roaming fees, you can email instead of calling or text messaging using one of the public gateway access points.
The benefits to this Wi-Fi phenomenon clearly outweigh the drawbacks.
If you are a US cellular subscriber and have signed up for wireless Broadband Access with Verizon wireless, you are locked into Verizon’s network. This means you can not use the public Wi-Fi hotspots with your smartphone or PDA.
Wi Fi Roaming vs. Cell Phone Roaming
If you want to call some one, or receive calls on your cellular phone and you happen to be outside your home calling area, some carriers will charge you a per minute overage access fee. These out of area charges apply even if you have a one or two year cell phone contract.
More and more people are taking advantage of the benefits associated with Wi-Fi roaming. If for example, you subscribe to your own Wi-FI provider, Wi-Fi roaming means you can use your username and password to access a different Wi-Fi service on another network without the hassle of signing up for the second Wi-Fi service. Under this scenario at month’s end, the service bill will show Wi-Fi roaming charges incurred from use of an additional Wi-Fi provider. This is a huge advantage, if you don’t want to sign up with 20 different Wi-Fi providers every time you go to a different access point. Use the same username and password to access the partner Wi-Fi network.
Who are some of the Wi-Fi providers that have roaming agreements?
- Sprint expanded their network by having roaming agreements with Airpath Wireless, AT&T Wireless, SBC, STSN, Wayport.
- Boingo Wireless also expanded their network by having roaming agreements with NetNearU, STSN, Surf and Sip, and Wayport.
Here are some free Wi-FI hotzone parks:
- New York, NY – Bryant Park located between 5th and 6th Avenue and 40th and 42nd Street.
- Philadelphia, PA – Love Park located at JFK Plaza opposite City Hall
- Milwaukee, WI – Pier Marquette Park located off west Kilbourn Avenue between Milwaukee River and old Third Street
- Boston, MA – Norman B. Leventhal Park located in downtown in the financial district, bordered by Congress, Franklin, Pearl and Milk streets
- Los Gatos, CA – Los Gatos Opera house located on S. Santa Cruz Avenue and East Main Street
- Austin, TX – Republic Square TX located just off West Fourth StreetHere are some free Wi-Fi hotspot finders:
- PC Hotspot finder – http://pcworld.jiwire.com/
- Laptop Hotspot finder – http://laptopmag.jiwire.com/, please click on Wi-Fi finder when you land on the home page
- Free Hotspot Finder – http://www.wififreespot.com/
Spotting a hotspot is easy, simply click on one of the 3 databases above to find a free wi-fi public gateway access point near your area. Fatport, a Vancouver based wi-fi provider uses roaming agreements with other Wi-Fi providers to allow Fatport subscribers access to over 4000 hotspots in North America. I recently found out that I could buy a 24 hour pass to access a Fatport wi-fi hotspot for only $9.95 and only $299.95 for the entire year.
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