Cities, EV-DO, WiMAX and Wireless?

Chris Steins's picture
Walt writes (subscription required, unfortunately) in the Wall Street Journal:

"The most important development this year in U.S. wireless communications wasn't the headline-grabbing mergers of various wireless carriers. It was the quiet, gradual rollout by Verizon Wireless of a technology called EV-DO, which for the first time is providing broadband-speed Internet access over the air from anywhere in the cities where it has been deployed."

Since Walt's focus tends to be on consumer devices, the article is primarily about the various PDA/phone combos that can use EV-DO, which is essentially a high-speed dial-up connection from your handheld, phone or laptop that rivals the speed of a DSL connection.

The article is interesting to me because EV-DO seems to be a fundamentally different technology than traditional 802.11b/g or WiMax wireless Internet access that many cities are adopting, and is apparently widely available in 18 cities.

Specifically, I 'm thinking back to Charlie's and Scott's posts last week about public versus private-sector efforts to provide WiFi in Philadelphia.

I was starting to think that this is shaping up to the the perfect storm for government-funded urban technology obsolescence, until a colleague here at Urban Insight reminded me that telephone networks and the Internet were first rolled out by government, and then later adopted by the private sector.

Now I'm wondering: Is WiFi following the same model, or is there some fundamental difference in the technology?
Chris Steins is co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Planetizen.


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