How Bad WiFi Connectivity Robs Us

Working at the BeachBack in 2005, I couldn’t wait to unbox my HP iPAQ 3715. It had a 320×240 color touch screen, could record sounds as .wav files and had an incredible 152 MB of memory.

And…802.11b WiFi. Fantastic!

This, I thought, would lead us down the glorious path of ubiquitous computing. Being able to compute information and access the Internet from any location. Alas, almost eight years later, we still have connectivity problems that trash productivity.

A Case In Point

While on vacation recently, my sister-in-law, an executive with a big PR firm, spent much of one morning troubleshooting after my brother-in-law’s WiFi network refused to let anybody connect.

Facing the same difficulty (and a pressing editorial deadline), I fired up the wireless access point on my Samsung Captivate smart phone, connected my notebook and finished my story. I even allowed my sister-in-law to connect so she could get a few things done while awaiting answers from her tech team. We eventually did get connected to my brother-in-law’s LAN, although it continued to be spotty throughout the week.

Raising the Question

Why should I have to resort to tethering to my smartphone, when WiFi is readily available?

Actually, I was a little surprised that using a smartphone as a WiFi access point was news to my sister-in-law. She’s usually pretty good about being up on the latest tech. Come to think of it, when the WiFi went belly up at Panera Bread a while back, I had a similar revelation. The manager asked me if I could connect and gave me a puzzled look when I replied, “I’m tethering through my phone.” Maybe tethering isn’t so mainstream.

You would think that iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and everything else would have seamless, no-brainer connectivity included by now. And, why don’t we see any notebooks with 3G/4G built-in? Or, for that matter, why not put 4G on every new tablet? My Asus Transformer Prime doesn’t have it.

The current state of affairs limits the importance of cloud-based computing, mobile apps and the “Internet of Things.” It’s certainly a vastly undocumented hit to productivity, both in personal and business activities, and it’s hounding the mobile sector.

To me, connectivity to the Internet is the real key to anytime, anywhere computing nirvana. Look around and tell me if you disagree. And how do we go about fixing the problem? Tell me in the comments below.

Image: Bigstock