WiFi is making the Internet “always on” and extending it to more people and more devices at more locations. But what about in the middle of the desert? Or in a disaster recovery situation, or large-scale events and on-location film productions where there may be no electrical and network infrastructure? Enter the WanderPod. From the Mojave Desert to downtown Manhattan, the WanderPod is literally a mobile communications machine that makes "always on" a reality. A fully-equipped trailer "Pod" contains a two-way satellite uplink, WiFi and VoIP telephony, and supports hundreds of concurrent users within a coverage area of 12.5 million square feet. The WanderPod is a self-contained and totally mobile "all-terrain warrior" that goes wherever the need is. Inside the Pod are VoIP phones, PDAs and laptops. During Burt Rutan’s recent successful attempt at the X Prize for space travel, a WanderPod was set up in the southern California desert and provided WiFi access to the entire crew. At $80,000 each, I am not sure what the market potential is but it is nice to see the innovation at work to help people get connected no matter they may be.
Another interesting connectivity approach called IntelliEdge is being offered by DropZone Networks. What is unique about their approach is that they have created an outdoor-ready wireless platform that supports WiFi and several other protocols in one small system that is solar-powered. The system is aimed at service providers to enable them to deploy high profitability offerings such as multi-player mobile gaming, mobile music downloading, mobile video broadcasting social applications and VoIP.
So much for mere land-based connectivity. Vint Cerf has been talking about the InterPlanetary Net for years! Many of us would settle for just WiFi on an airline flight. It is finally beginning to happen thanks to Connexion by Boeing, the first high-speed Internet service available to commercial airline passengers. Lufthansa, SAS, JAL, ANA and others are in the process of equipping their long-haul aircraft with the new WiFi service.The best news is that the airlines plan to make it available throughout the planes, not just in premium classes. I think eventually it will become "jacks or better" — the minimum needed to compete — but at the outset it will not be cheap. It may be as much as $30 per flight. Cheap compared to what I paid in Scandinavia, but still expensive. On long inter-continental flights it will make sense though. I enthusiastically signed up for the service for a flight to Cairo a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, the flight crew had never heard of it. Seems like the training program is a bit behind the marketing program.
Finally, airports are getting on the WiFi bandwagon big time. Complete airport listings are available at JiWired’s Hotspot Locator .