Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

AT&T Boosts Wi-Fi Presence With 13,000 New Hot Spots

Wi-Fi hotspots represent a good way to get mobile connectivity, especially where only occasional connectivity is needed. Most every laptop sold in the past few years has an embedded Wi-Fi card today, making it much easier for people to gain access to the network. Today's 3G services require purpose-built modems and, though more manufacturers are offering integrated mini-PCI 3G cards, they're not exactly what one might call common. 3G services also usually require users to agree to monthly billed contracts (usually with a contract term of a year or two).
On the performance side, Wi-Fi retains a performance edge over 3G broadband. Although your hot spot will be limited by whatever backhaul is connecting it, generally you'll find faster connection speeds on Wi-Fi than with cellular. (NWC's own Peter Rysavy detailed his comparative findings in his Sept. 6 Mobile Observer column). 3G really has the competitive edge in ubiqutious coverage and where carriers haven't yet deployed 3G services, 2.5G services like EDGE and 1xRTT can fill the gap.
As for security, free Wi-Fi hotspots, for the most part, don't provide anything in the way of encryption. Some paid hotspots--T-Mobile comes to mind--offer WPA support when you use their connection managers. However, enterprises should be using some sort of VPN solution to secure their remote workers, over wired or wireless connections. In most cases, a good VPN client should alleviate any security concerns.

Sean Ginevan
NWC Contributing Editor

AT&T said today it is rolling out thousands of new Wi-Fi locations and an updated version of its VPN (virtual private network) client that helps remote users securely access corporate networks over public hotspots.

AT&T's focus on Wi-Fi comes as 3G services, particularly in the United States, are at last beginning to gain traction (see analysis at right).

  • 1