Carrier WiFi

Readers Split on WLAN v 3G

The argument over whether wireless LAN is a true 3G killer, or the biggest hype since, er, 3G, continues to rage following Unstrung’s totally unscientific but absurdly popular Wireless Personality Test conducted last month.

A record 505 readers logged their opinions on the fighting credentials of wireless LAN and 3G -- a bout that finished with a controversial near-split decision. Forty-five percent of respondents believe a public access wireless LAN hotspot is the best way to access wireless data on the move, but another 44 percent back a trusty packet-data cellular network.

Cellular comes out on top in a hardware head-to-head battle between tri-mode WLAN cards and data handsets, however. Fifty-one percent of readers are convinced a cellular “high-heeled fashionista” would have no problems thumping a “low-browed executive” armed only with a laptop.

The results fly in the face of a recent analyst prediction that wireless LAN will establish itself as the dominant wireless infrastructure within the next five years, at the expense of 3G (see WLAN to Squeeze Out 3G). Such findings will also provide some relief to carriers struggling with early deployments of data-intensive, next-generation networks (see J-Phone's Limited Appeal, Japan's 3G Needs a Kick Start and 3G UK Cries for Help).

In fact, it appears that considerable work remains to be done in educating the user on the benefits of wireless LAN. Forty-one percent of readers curse the technology because of configuration problems with their own devices, and a further 19 percent find the whole concept just too damn “geeky.” Another 40 percent are turned off by fears of their spanking new laptop being stolen from public places.

On a final note, Unstrung is now slightly concerned as to the credentials of its reader base. Thirty-eight percent of respondents readily admit to being “a total slut” when deciding upon a wireless technology for personal use. It seems these hapless souls will take any wireless access on offer, regardless of its reputation or track record.

Thankfully, 32 percent of readers express some form of dignity by deeming themselves too sensible to be duped into answering such a question.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung
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