From SiliconValley.com on WiFi:
A technology originally developed to link PCs in small, wireless clusters is spurring grassroots efforts to create Internet “clouds” that could eventually bypass the networks of big telecommunications providers.
So far, the greatest buzz over WiFi, or Wireless Fidelity, has surrounded the sharing of connectivity among neighbors, friends and strangers.
But the inexpensive technology, known scientifically as 802.11b, may be destined for something much bigger. Users are expanding homegrown networks with little or no control from the local phone or cable company.
Wireless clouds could support a new generation of technology, from always-on portable phones and handheld computers to futuristic sensors that could continually update weather or smog conditions, for instance.
Coverage remains limited today, a far cry from what is offered by cable, phone and cellular companies. WiFi is still mostly used to provide Internet to laptops and desktops in homes and offices as well as airports, hotel lobbies and coffee shops.
But advocates say WiFi’s organic growth, low cost and simplicity bodes well for future development. And while current wireless equipment extends DSL or cable Internet service to several hundred feet, the range can grow to a dozen miles or more with the addition of a stronger antenna.
The real potential lies in using WiFi for wide-area network coverage, going beyond its LAN scope. This is great for emerging markets who can now build a high-speed, pervasive network infrastructure, bottom-up.