Wired magazine has a collection of articles on the WiFi revolution, equating its impact to the PC and the Web browser.
What makes the new standard so alluring? Wi-Fi is cheap, powerful, and, most important, it works. A box the size of a paperback, and costing no more than dinner for two, magically distributes broadband Internet to an area the size of a football field. A card no larger than a matchbook receives it. The next laptop you buy will probably have Wi-Fi built in. Wires may soon be for power alone.
But the appeal goes deeper. Wi-Fi represents a fundamentally different approach to the airwaves that could lead to a new era of wireless policy. Like other open spectrum technologies rising in its wake, Wi-Fi is a way to use the handful of frequencies set aside for unrestricted consumer use. That’s true of the old CB radio, too, but unlike the trucker channels Wi-Fi is digital and smart enough to avoid congestion. After 100 years of regulations that assumed serious wireless technologies were fragile and in need of protection by monopolies on exclusive frequencies (making spectrum the most valuable commodity of the information age), Wi-Fi is fully capable of protecting itself. It has turned the airwaves into a commons without tragedy, and turned the economics of wireless on its head.
The next four WiFi challenges: making it work everywhere, unwiring the living room, using WiFi to cross the last mile and converging with the cell phone.