« WCSYC | Main | Argument Against the Man »

Project Rainbow

The New York Times has a story out today claiming that major technology and communications firms have been talking for eight months now about creating a nationwide 802.11-based network:

The Intel Corporation, I.B.M., AT&T Wireless and several other wireless and Internet service providers including Verizon Communications and Cingular are exploring the creation of a company to deploy a network based on the increasingly popular 802.11 wireless data standard, known as WiFi, according to several people close to the talks.

The discussions, which are code-named Project Rainbow and have been going on for the last eight months, envision a nationwide service that would provide on-the-go professionals and other Web surfers a unified way to reach the Internet from a wide range of "hot spots" like airports and other public places. It is not intended to supply broadband connections to customers' homes, an executive involved in the discussions said...

There have already been a number of ad hoc efforts and several national start-ups trying to lash the hodgepodge of 802.11 networks together into a usable national network. Companies like Boingo Wireless and Joltage Networks are trying to sell services that would let a computer user sign up once and use wireless access points around the country.

But the companies involved in the talks anticipate a more ambitious effort based on building a new wireless communications infrastructure that would also tie in the nation's cellular carriers, offering a seamless transition from low-speed cellular data standards to 802.11.

If true, and if Project Rainbow moves forward, it's significant. Boingo offering hundreds of access points is nice, but I'm in their core target market and even I haven't signed up yet -- I can't justify the price and the coverage is just too spotty. If coverage was ubiquitous, though, and especially if I could seamlessly roam between WANs (such as GPRS and 1xRTT) and 802.11 nodes, that would be a different story...

Post a comment