From Internet to Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi): A Study of Wi-Fi Public Hotspots Users.

From Internet to Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi)
A Study of Wi-Fi Public Hotspots Users.
New York City
April 18, 2006
To shed lights on the usage of Wi-Fi, we are currently collecting data
for research study at
formatting link
click on [Wi-Fi Survey]. If
you have used Wi-Fi Public Hotspot go to the site above and
participate. There is a Dollar donation to charitable organization of
your choice for completing the survey. For questions and information
send an e-mail to or .
Since its commercialization, the Internet has emerged from the confines
of academia to become a mass-market service used by over 60 percent of
the population (US Department of Commerce-NTIA, 2002). The Internet
has also become a ubiquitous medium and a basic tool available to the
general populace. Researchers suggest that advanced information
technology and telecommunications infrastructures are requirements for
active participation in today's global information economy (Kelly,
1998; Cairncross, 2001). One of the most important components in
accelerating electronic-commerce, electronic government, and business
development is high-speed broadband technology. The United States
Department of Commerce (2002) noted,
"Broadband high-speed, always on Internet connectivity represents
the next phase in the evolution of the Internet. Most experts predict
broadband access will enable the creation of new applications and
services that will transform economies and significantly impact the
competitiveness of the businesses of the future".
According to Nielsen/Net Ratings data, as of March 2004, the United
States broadband penetration of home connectivity was 45 percent, while
at work penetration stood at 70 percent. Nearly three out of four U.S.
households with a phone have access to the Internet, an overall
penetration rate of 75 percent (Nielsen/Net Ratings, 2004). More
recently, wireless Internet access has entered the mainstream of the
United States and industrialized countries. As a result, broadband
access to the Internet has increased and become more available to the
general population.
Wireless Revolution
The provision of wireless communications was not conceived until Bell
Laboratories developed the cellular concept in the 1960s and 1970s.
With the development of highly reliable, miniature, solid-state radio
frequency hardware in the 1970s, the wireless communications era was
born. Wireless local area network (WLAN) also dated back to early 70s
when the University of Hawaii launched a research project, ALOHANET,
which connected several computers on different islands via a radio
network. It is not until the 80s did the Federal Communication
Commission (FCC) authorized the use of the Industrial Scientific and
Medical (ISM) band for public and commercial use. The ISM band spans
902 MHz to 5.85 GHz frequencies. The wireless fidelity (WI-FI) fits
into this unlicensed band.
A wireless network is a network that uses radio waves as its carrier
that can be used to establish network connections to the Internet for
users within a coverage area. There are different types of wireless
technologies available, for example, wireless fidelity (IEEE 802.11),
Bluetooth (IEEE 802.15), and WiMax (IEEE 802.16), and 3G
(WCDMA/CDMA2000) Internet accessing phones. Wireless technology
provides new, low-cost and fast broadband connections to the Internet.
Wireless communication allows consumers and businesses to transcend
time and place, thus increasing accessibility and expanding both social
and business networks (Palen, 2002). Wireless communication also
promises to provide convenience, localization, and personalization of
services (Clarke, 2001). Wireless Local Area Network shipments rose
65% from 2001 to 2002 with business shipments of 11.6 million units and
home shipments of 6.8 million units, generating total market revenue of
2.2 billion dollars (Instat, 2002).
Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi)
One of the driving forces behind wireless technology growth was the
creation of the IEEE 802.11 standard called wireless fidelity,
popularly known as Wi-Fi. The IEEE 802.11 standard is the product of
seven years of research that came to a head in 1997 (Champness, 1997).
In addition to providing high performance and robust systems, the
standard also promises multiple vendor interoperability. This means
customers have the freedom to mix and match vendors to meet the
requirement for each given application. As standards for wireless
technology evolved, its speed increased and the prices of the wireless
components decreased, making wireless technology pervasive and a
commonplace part of the telecommunications infrastructure (Selander,
IEEE 802.11
The working group of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers (IEEE) in 1997 standardized 802.11 for wireless local area
network. The 802.11, popularly known as wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) was
designated a throughput of 2 Mbps over the 900 MHz ISM band. It was
marred by interference since other products such as cordless phones
operated on the same band. 802.11 also used two different encoding
methods, Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) and Direct Sequence
Spread Spectrum (DSSS), which made many types of equipment
IEEE 802.11b
In 1999, seeking to continue the invention of a speedy way to send data
via unlicensed airwaves, engineers working on a standard for wireless
local-area networks borrowed from existing technologies Ethernet's data
packets, the Internet's routing protocols, and spread spectrum's use of
many channels within a frequency band. The result is information
delivered at speeds up to 11 Mbps in the 2.4-GHz band, and at a range
of about 300 feet. IEEE 802.11b is the most successful WLAN technology
to date. It offers only three available non-overlapping channels,
meaning spectrum is scarce, and even with advanced modulation schemes,
and interference is a problem.
IEEE 802.11a
802.11a provides up to 54 Mbps in the 5 GHZ band. It was standardized
in 1999 but its products started to appear in 2001. Its strength is
high speed and lower risk of radio frequency interference than either
802.11b or 802.11g. This is because it is operating on a different
band. In addition, the band gives it up to twelve non-operating
channels instead of three available to 802.11b and 802.11g. The
802.11a also towers over the two in performance. The 802.11a uses a
more advanced encoding scheme, orthogonal frequency division
multiplexing (OFDM), which is the key to its faster speed. OFDM also
utilizes bandwidth more efficiently while reducing interference.
802.11a got a boost in November 2003, when the FCC released an
additional 255 MHz of spectrum in the 5.470-5.725 GHz band for
unlicensed wireless devices, which increases the available spectrum by
80 percent.
IEEE 802.11g
802.11g promises complete interoperability with 802.11b and
transmission rates up to five times (54 Mbps) on the same 2.4-GHz band.
The drawback of 802.11g for a high-performance network is that it still
resides in the crowded 2.4 GHz band and is therefore subject to the
interference issues that plague 802.11b. It also has three
non-overlapping channels.
Wireless Devices
Devices such as laptop computers, personal digital assistant (PDAs) and
cellular phones enabled with Wi-Fi can send and receive information to
and from the Internet, anywhere within range of an access point (AP).
Omni directional Wi-Fi access points are currently capable of
transmitting signals up to 300 feet at up to 54 mega bits per second
(mbps). Wireless fidelity Internet access promises relatively secure,
high-speed Internet access from thousands of hotspots in restaurants,
libraries, schools, bus terminals, airports, parks and other public
places with access points (Couper, 2004). According to Langos (2003),
Wi-Fi is fast becoming one of the dominant transmission delivery
mechanisms because of its low cost and high bandwidth (Langos, 2003).
As a result, wireless fidelity (802.11) has caught the attention of
major technology companies.
Wireless Major Players
Apple kick-started the market in 1999 with the incorporation of Wi-Fi
in its iBook portable for the low price of $99.00 (Langos, 2003). The
giant chipmaker, Intel also launched its wireless mobile computing
technology "Centrino", which is designed to help manufacturers
build notebooks that use less power, and promotes extended battery life
along with wireless network capabilities (Spooner, 2003). Intel
Centrino mobile technology includes a specialized mobile processor,
related chipsets and 802.11 wireless network function that have been
optimized, tested and validated to work together(Intel, 2003). The
entry of these major players has increased the number of Wi-Fi enabled
devices in the market.
A broadband Internet connection is seen as a facilitator to electronic
commerce, e-government, online education, telemedicine, telecommuting
and overall economic prosperity. Therefore, government and non-profit
organizations have supported its development by promoting the
establishment of free public "hotspots" for citizen use, while
businesses have created commercial public hotspots for subscription
The early free hotspots were championed by tech-enthusiasts, like
Anthony Townsend of New York among others, who pioneered the early
deployment of a free Wi-Fi public hotspot in Bryant Park, Manhattan-New
York City. In 2001, Sky Dayton (founder of Earthlink Inc.) began
Boingo Wireless Inc., which established early commercial Wi-Fi public
hotspots that charge subscribers fees for service. Boingo provides
Internet access via Wi-Fi to over 1300 hotspots around the US (Langos,
2003). Another major player is T-Mobile, a subsidiary of deutsche
Telecom AG, which provides Wi-Fi wireless broadband Internet service in
public hotspot locations such as Starbucks coffeehouses, Border Books
and Music stores, FedEx Kinkos, the airline club of American, Delta,
United and U.S. Airways.
In recent years, other players have joined the deployment of both
commercial and free public hotspots, which resulted in the development
of thousands of hotspots. There are about 5,000 free hotspots and
16,000 commercial hotspots worldwide (Langos, 2003). Researchers
predict there will be around 180,000 hotspots worldwide enabled with
Wi-Fi, the popular protocol for delivering high-speed Internet service,
by 2007 (Biddlecombe, 2003).
Long Beach, California
As an example of use in practice, the economic development bureau of
Long Beach, California is offering 8 mbps of free WI-FI access to
create Internet broadband services along a four-block stretch of Pine
Ave, a seaside strip running through the heart of downtown. The cost to
the city is a modest $4000 per year and they hope to stir activity in
its business district through this modest investment (Gubbin 2003).
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
An interesting initiative is being undertaken in Pittsburgh, where a
wireless hotspot has been organized by 3 Rivers Connect, a non-profit
organization, which gets the majority of its funding from the State of
Pennsylvania. It has teamed up with a local start-up "Grok Technology"
to lease a wireless network for a pilot scheme covering a targeted area
of the city and two parks (Raffray, 2002). The project, they hope, will
be an economic development initiative with a net marginal return.
Bryant Park, NYC-Midtown Manhattan
In New York City, NYCwireless installed in 2002 wireless Internet
broadband access in Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. NYCwireless plan
is to set up more than 100 very short range free wireless networks in
parks, building lobbies, neighborhood centers and coffee shops. The
Bryant Park wireless fidelity broadband Internet access attracts over
40 users per day.
NYC Lower Manhattan
New York City, with a focus in the Lower Manhattan, presents the
requirements and uniqueness necessary to study the possibility of
incorporating free consumer wireless fidelity broadband Internet access
as a component of a multi-project economic development strategy. In
May 2003, the Alliance for Downtown New York City launched the Lower
Manhattan Wireless Network, a collection of free wireless hotspots in
seven large and widely used locations throughout Lower Manhattan
(, 2003).
The locations selected by the Alliance involve citizens' use in
numbers that dwarf other wireless installations. These include high
traffic areas such as Bowling Green Park; City Hall Park; Liberty Park
Plaza; Rector Park; 60 Wall Street; the South Street Seaport and
Vietnam Veterans Plaza. According to Shirley Jaffe, Vice President for
Economic Development at The Downtown Alliance, the network should allow
anyone in Lower Manhattan to walk to a free, wireless Internet
connection within five minutes (, 2003).
The Downtown Alliance was motivated to act because of the economic
devastation caused by the September 11th 2001 attack on the World Trade
Center. As an active participant in the rebuilding efforts, the
Alliance is working hard to ensure that Lower Manhattan regains its
past economic glory in view of the pain of 9/11. The attack is
estimated at $83 billion in damage to New York City's economy (NYC-
Partnership, 2002). The service area includes three factors of great
importance to the research.
First, it includes the area of the World Trade Center. The 9/11/01
disaster at the WTC is the prime factor in the governmental and private
interest in promoting economic development in the area. Secondly, the
area includes varies technology incubators, including "Silicon Alley",
implying a sophisticated tech-savvy population in the area. New York
City even was selected as one of the intelligent communities in 2001,
despite the 9/11 disasters by the Intelligent Community Forum, which is
a special interest group within the World Teleport Association that
focuses on the uses of broadband technology for economic development.
Intelligent communities are defined as: Communities whether within the
political boundary or of a municipality or comprising a larger region,
that view bandwidth as new essential utility, as vital to economic
growth and public welfare as clean water and dependable electricity.
They make conscious public policy choice to seize the control of the
community's broadband destiny in order to ensure their businesses and
citizens access to advanced information and communication services.
Intelligent communities work to prosper in the Digital Age.
Rather than trying to prop up dying industries, they eagerly embrace
the growth industries of tomorrow. They work to create advanced
information and telecommunication infrastructure needed to gain a
competitive edge in attracting and growing the leading-edge industries
that create jobs in the economy of the 21st century. The introduction
of widespread free consumer wireless fidelity broadband Internet access
in Lower Manhattan is an attempt to extend this vision, one that could
be replicated if it proves to be successful.
Finally, Lower Manhattan represents a daily work population estimated
at 280,000, which thereby makes the Wi-Fi service potentially
accessible by more people than anywhere else does in the nation. New
York City has been on the forefront of information technology. New York
City is rebuilding. Recognizing that widely accessible broadband
Internet connection is a potential facilitator to economic growth and
commerce, cities and economic development organizations are beginning
to test the provision of broadband Internet service through sponsored
wireless fidelity (WI-FI) hubs.
Wi-Fi Users
According to Gartner, an estimated 99 million people will be using
Wi-Fi by 2006. The numbers are fast approaching a true mass-market
level. Wi-Fi is cheap, powerful, and, most important, it works. Among
the geeks, Wi-Fi has become a fascination, a glimpse of the future of
the Internet. Like the Web, it is open, unregulated, and free. Anyone
can deploy it, and millions have. For many it is an epiphany - the
unforgettable impact of being in the presence of something important
and new. Wi-Fi technology is not limited to the office environment
alone. With the proper broadcast technology, it can become an
extensive wide area network, permitting an enterprise to link its staff
together through a virtual private network across a corporate campus or
across the country.
Even with the high number of wireless fidelity deployments worldwide,
the usage at both commercial and free public hotspots is running below
prediction for the technology (Briddlecomb, 2003). Research in the
area of wireless fidelity- Internet access acceptance and adoption is
sketchy; therefore, it has become imperative to understand the factors
that affect the users' acceptance and adoption of wireless fidelity
Internet access and the reasons for the lower than predicted number of
users in both commercial and free Wi-Fi public hotspots.
The objective of this study is to better understand the adoption, user
characteristics, and usage patterns of commercial and free wireless
fidelity public hotspot users. In doing so, this study intends to draw
upon several well-established initial acceptance models specifically:
the technology acceptance model (TAM) (Davis, 1989) rooted in the
theory of reasoned action (TRA), the theory of planned behavior, an
extension of TRA, and the diffusion of innovation theory (DIT) by
Rogers (1983, 1995, 2003). This study will further incorporate the
concepts of disruptive technology (DT) presented by Christensen (1997)
and to ascertain whether lower than anticipated rates of the usage of
public wireless fidelity hotspots is affected by the disruptive effects
of substitute products such as 3G Internet accessing cell phones with
wireless application protocol.
This research will provide data to: (a) contrast wireless fidelity
acceptance, adoption and use in commercial and free public hotspots;
(b) inform as to whether the user characteristics and usage pattern
data matches well with existing academic theories and models of earlier
adopters' behavior; and (c) assess whether usage rates in both
settings are affected by the disruptive technology characteristics of
other substitute products, such as 3G Internet accessing cell phones.
To shed lights on the usage of Wi-Fi, we are currently collecting data
for this study at
formatting link
click on [Wi-Fi Survey]. If you have
used Wi-Fi Public Hotspot go to the site above and participate. There
is a Dollar donation to charitable organization of your choice for
completing the survey. For questions and information send an e-mail to or .
Patrick Udeh,ABD . MBA, teaches at Touro University and Berkeley
College, New York City. Current research study is titled;
'A comparison of User Characteristics and Usage Patterns of
Commercial and Free Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) Public Hotspots Users'.
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Since you are an MBA student from New York, let me assist you in your English usage, in this sentance (above and continued below), light should be singular. You want to shed light on a subject, one light is enough two would be more then the job calls for and redundant.
Good luck on the survey. But my original question still stands, how valid will the data you collect be when the survey is of self selected individuals?
fundamentalism, fundamentally wrong.
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