Mobile Broadband signals the Death of WiFi Hotspots

Wed, Jun 25, 2008 3-minute read

Its been a long time since I last wrote a proper post and I doubt this will be that, however having just spent the afternoon chatting with the guys at carsonifiedabout whats happening in the mobile industry I’m feeling all inspired.

Currently I’m sat in Starbucks in Bath and I’m using my Orange Mobile Broadband dongle to get online, quite frankly its great! Whilst I loved the idea of Wifi hotspots in Starbucks (coffee & the web my 2 favorite things) I very rarely used them. Why? well mostly it came down to cost & usablity. Paying per minute for wifi is just plain crazy and especially at the rates TMobile charge. Mobile Broadband dongles are availble for around £15 per month and that gets you about 3 gig of data, whilst that may not seem much if your comparing it to a home broadband subscription its plenty for using a laptop on the go. I suppose I could get a subscription to TMobile’s hotspot but I really don’t want to as it feels like a lot of hassle and wouldn’t work everywhere. Ok so full disclosure time I work for Orange and don’t pay for my mobile broadband but when I leave I think I will get one and pay the bill for it! The usability is spot on, Orange have even created a Mac client so I just fire up the software, plug in the stick and click connect, The odd time I’m tried to use a paid hotspot its been a real mess of trying to get the connection, then open a browser, wait for the re-direct and then get out my credit card to pay for it. It just doesn’t seem to fit my work flow.

The speed is perfectly good, I don’t know what I’m getting here but its probabbly around 1 meg and I’m browsing and watching the odd qik video without even thinking about it. I’m not gonna download a whole software update via this but that can easily wait till I get home. I’ve certainly never thought that a hotspot had amazing performance. The cloud wifi have got a nice setup where the account is tied to the hardware mac address of a device and therefore it connects seamlessly, this works great for my iPhone on rail stations but I think when we see the 3G iPhone its usefulness will diminish, again the hotspots aint everywhere. Now the only problem is I’m out of coffee and don’t want to pack-up my laptop to go downstairs to order another one, anyone know if the Bath Starbucks is on Twitter? :-P