Wi-Fi: It Just Keeps Going and Growing

As Wi-Fi approaches its 25th birthday, innovations based on the technology just keep on coming. A company called Anyfi Networks today launched a product that gives a Wi-Fi network the basic properties of a cell phone network, which means a user could move from hotspot to hotspot without losing coverage or having to authenticate on the network again. Another startup, called Compiled Networks offers technology that has the same effect.

Other innovations are detailed in a nice article over at Network World, including ones we’ve covered like the combination of Wi-Fi and wireless HD video transfer technology using spectrum in the 60GHz band and the peer-to-peer network technology known as Wi-Fi Direct. The story also lays out how Wi-Fi can be used for unified mesh networks — similar to the technology that Anyfi and Compiled are currently trying to offer through proprietary efforts.

Such mesh networks make Wi-Fi that much more competitive with cellular networks, because they extend its range — and the user experience is seamless. Plus, as Wi-Fi is embedded into more and more smartphones, the need for seamless and ubiquitous Wi-Fi grows with it. For example, my child’s pediatrician has installed Wi-Fi in her office within the last two months, precisely because it’s something that parents kept requesting while they waited.

If Wi-Fi networks can be linked using standard (in other words, cheaper and interoperable) technology, it becomes harder to run through the limited gigabytes or megabytes in your high-cost cellular data plans, which is a good thing for consumers and possibly good for carriers whose networks are overloaded. For an example of the mesh Wi-Fi future, visit New York to see the Comcast (s cmcsa), Time Warner Cable (s twc) and Cablevision (s cvs) shared Wi-Fi in action. When it comes to cost, it’s hard to beat Wi-Fi. Thanks to anticipated updates to the standard, when it comes to coverage and the user experience, it may be hard not to choose Wi-Fi.

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