World WiFi Day Aims to Help More People Benefit From Connectivity Anywhere, Anytime
June 20 is World WiFi Day, “a global initiative to help bridge the global divide” that also aims to bring awareness about the 4 billion people worldwide who don’t have Internet access.
Internet access itself — and the WiFi that provides it — can, by its very nature, feel vague and intangible. WiFi can’t be seen or touched, but people know when it’s there — and when it’s not. Whether individuals are connecting in a coffee shop, a business, or even on a bus, WiFi plays an important role in ensuring that people are able to access and benefit from the modern flow of information.
What Is the Current State of WiFi?
On an individual-user level, as unlimited mobile phone data plans begin to disappear, using cellular to connect to the Internet is becoming increasingly costly. People are looking to avoid overage charges by connecting via WiFi in locations such as coffee shops, schools, and even retailers. On an organizational level, companies are utilizing WiFi as a key component of their business model; it not only provides Internet connectivity for keeping a store up and running, but also provides analytics about customer behaviors. WiFi-enabled technologies can offer businesses advanced information such as how many individuals looked at a window display but didn’t come into the store itself, or how many potential customers entered the store but didn’t make a purchase.
On a global scale, Internet connectivity — and, consequently, the benefits of WiFi — aren’t always readily available for personal or business use. Establishing wired networks is expensive and time consuming; in some locations, it isn’t even possible. Building a wired network requires purchasing hardware, laying cable, and buying devices that use cords for connecting to the Internet. In rural areas or in communities without strong infrastructure and financial resources, this can present multiple challenges.
In contrast, WiFi enables companies and communities to offer Internet connectivity at a reduced cost and with significantly fewer physical components. Multiple users can be connected through one simple access point (AP), and users don’t need to connect via an actual cable. In the education sector, for example, Google tablets need Internet connectivity, but they can only be connected via WiFi, as they simply don’t have ports that allow for wired connections. Whether in the complicated enterprise world or in the simple, inexpensive devices children use to learn, connecting to the Internet via WiFi is becoming more of a basic need than a luxury.
Companies such as Cradlepoint that offer the ability to quickly set up a WiFi connection via a cellular network (and that offer failover) present an option for areas without Internet connectivity or where individual connections via cellular networks are cost prohibitive.
What Kind of Impact Can WiFi Make?
Once smartphones really took hold in the market, WiFi began to explode. WiFi essentially allows people to get the information they want and need when they want and need it — and smartphones allowed them to do so in the palm of their hands. Whether it’s at a business, through social media, or even in education, users are streaming information on demand through multiple devices. Access to WiFi brings with it critical access to this constant flow of information, thereby enabling individuals, businesses, and communities to stay connected to current events, trends, information, and the global economy.
Companies such as Cradlepoint can quickly, easily, and cost-effectively bring WiFi connectivity to areas where it does not already exist. In-vehicle networks can offer WiFi on school buses and city buses, for example. These vehicles can also be used to provide WiFi to larger regions that previously have not had Internet access: the Coachella Valley Unified School District launched a “WiFi on Wheels” program where school buses, equipped with Cradlepoint wireless routers, were parked in strategic areas to broadcast WiFi to the district’s 20,000 students and their families. Running cables throughout a remote desert area such as Coachella would have been nearly impossible — not to mention prohibitively expensive — but the WiFi on Wheels program provided wireless connectivity to an entire area. Initiatives such as this show the practical means for helping to meet the larger, philosophical goals behind World WiFi Day.
WiFi isn’t just about providing access to the Internet through traditional means; it’s about connecting people to information and the broader marketplace of ideas. Evolving wireless connectivity and WiFi itself can bring new technologies, applications, and access to individuals and communities across the globe.
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