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Two announcements over the last couple of days stand in an interesting contrast to each other. One is Google’s announcement of Google WiFi and the availability of free WiFi access across all of the city of Mountain View. The second is Boeing’s announcement to exit from providing WiFi access on board carriers flying Boeing aircraft in December 2006, after having equipped 156 aircraft with their Connexion service, including those from carriers like Lufthansa, SAS and Singapore Airlines. (This follows an announcement in June of Verizon to also exit the in-flight phone business.)
Access to things like VoIP, web-based on-line services and data content, like that of our own Formtek | Orion repository, or any of hundreds of other kinds of services from anywhere and anyplace is enticing. The net is becoming (or has become) the driving force for business communication and data.
Google’s roll-out across the entire city of Mountain View seems to have been challenging and have had a few glitches. All transmitters are not in place just yet either. Also the disclaimer that the service is an “outdoor service” and does not work well in-doors is a bit disappointing. Considering the service has only been up a few days, it seems to be doing well — I’m looking forward to the planned roll-out in San Francisco.
The exit of Boeing and Verizon from in-flight WiFi might prove to be an interesting alternative for Google. For example, immediately after Boeing’s announcement ASiQ in turn announced that they see Boeing’s exit as greater opportunity for them. Boeing’s Connexion was based on technology circa 2000. It’s only six years, but technology has changed quickly and ASiQ has developed a much cheaper alternative.
There has been a lot of press about Google’s efforts to try to penetrate the Enterprise market. While free community-wide net access is great (especially if it is somewhere that I’ll be frequently), I wonder that if Google is really serious about the Enterprise that it might be a better and more cost-effective strategy for them to provide free WiFi in places like airports and airplanes, places where business people are in high numbers. It seems like it would be far easier and have fewer obstacles in getting approval to do something like that rather than to try to blanket the landscape of an entire community with WiFi.