A question raised by Richard Thanki, a wireless consultant who used to work for Ofcom. GigaOm summarizes:
This isn’t a new concept by any means – operators like AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint are now planning their first small cell deployments with an aim of implementing multitechnology heterogeneous networks in the future. But while their plans include Wi-Fi to varying degrees, those operators are still leaning heavily on small cells built over licensed spectrum they own and control, which to Thanki makes absolutely no sense.
“For example a cellular picocell costs from $7,500 to $15,000 whereas a much higher capacity carrier-grade Wi-Fi access point costs around $2,000,” Thanki wrote. “The cost of a Wi-Fi chipset for a consumer device is around $5, whereas 3G cellular chipsets costs around $30.
Thanki specifically cites the rise of so-called “super Wi-Fi” technology, which could help reach rural areas much more easily than current Wi-Fi can. He suggests that TV “white spaces” — i.e. the parts of the local TV spectrum not being used to show “Seinfeld” reruns — get used for wireless access. Fascinating. (ht Hacker News)