A Wi-Fi Summer Tip Sheet
PHILADELPHIA–It was a full-on Wi-Fi binge at the Philly Tech It Out program here on 8/21, with one common refrain: When it comes to Wi-Fi, we’re still in the very, very early stages.
“We know it’s new and nifty, and know it adds value, but where it’s going to go is anybody’s bet,” said morning keynoter Ken Falkenstein, VP/Wireless Technology for Comcast. He added, for the benefit of the appreciable student presence: “You will have a marvelous career trying to get rid of the wires.”
Other highlights of the “Wi-Fi Everywhere” day, put on by the Philadelphia chapter of Women In Cable & Telecommunications:
Greyhound’s decision on its 100th anniversary to put Wi-Fi spigots throughout its short-term rides reversed what had been the company’s smallest earner — and they can thank the millennial generation for it. “They gave us something we think we should have,” said Blaire Ballin, a senior at Ramapo College and Comcast summer intern.
Speaking of millennials: They’re a demanding bunch. Earlier this summer, she accidentally over-ran her data plan. Yes, she could’ve paid for more. But then again: “I have a hard time understanding that I have to pay for anything. Luxuries should just be there.”
(Just to bring your eyebrows back down: This same young woman also led a project that enabled a community of Guatemalan women to sell their woven goods over Wi-Fi.)
Sexy Wi-Fi numbers: Comcast expects to light up 8 million Wi-Fi “homespots” by year-end, calling the decision to install boxes comprised of both cable modem and Wi-Fi radio “the hockey stick moment.”
Time Warner Cable’s Wi-Fi footprint supports 17 million sessions per month; about a fifth of them come in from roaming partners, like Boingo. (Last summer, Time Warner was the first U.S. operator to partner with Boingo on Wi-Fi roaming — industrially known as HotSpot 2.0, with a consumer brand of Passpoint.)
The city’s regional rail line supports about 270,000 Wi-Fi sessions per month, with a load of 2.5 Terabytes of data transfer, said Bill Zebrowski, Senior Director of Information Technology for SEPTA, who quipped: “That’s a lot of Walking Dead.”
At the 2014 World Cup, in Brazil, 30% of the people sitting in the 241,033-seat Maracana Stadium got a connectivity fix over Wi-Fi, moving 5.6 terabytes of data over 217 access points, noted executives from Ruckuss Wireless.
Crazy stuff that’s coming: Wi-Fi that recharges your batteries. (What!?) Well, sort of. It’s called “wireless backscatter,” and is in the academic stages now as a way to make battery-less the sensors of the Internet of Things.
In closing: Focusing on one tech subject for an entire day takes guts! It worked. Kudos, WICT Philadelphia, for an outstanding event.
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.