WIFI AS A TECHNOLOGY has made great strides in the last few years, but it still faces many challenges, not all of which will be overcome soon.
Wireless connectivity has spread, with more public and home networks than ever before. But it faces big issues over ease of use, roaming and security, agreed analysts and experts in Barcelona today.
"The problem and opportunity of WiFi is that it can be used either as a service, or you can own it," said Dean Bubley, analyst and founder of Disruptive Solutions.
Chris Cox, director of marketing at Ip.access Ltd added, "The WiFi install base is fragmented. There is some proprietary, some are owned, some more public kinds of services. You also have a cellular network.
"You will see WiFi improve in its ease of use, but it will always be slightly fragmented and evolutionary, and will never have a smooth service like you get with a cellular carrier."
Natasha Tamaskar, VP of product marketing at Genband, said that security is a real issue with the amount of data carried in mobile devices like smartphones.
She said, "Things like financial applications on your Iphone means that you can’t ignore security. If you’re trying to tie in security with mobility on different types of network, it is a pretty hard problem to solve."
Richard Webb, directing analyst for WiMax, microwave and mobile devices at Infonetics Research, did not envisage that we will ever have ubiquitous WiFi coverage.
He added, "WiFi is a local area technology. Yes it’s extending, but it has never really proven itself as a wide area technology. I'm not sure that's really the right focus for it. It's a very imperfect technology and will remain that way." µ