Wi-Fi will never be seamless, experts claim


Wireless technology may have improved over the years but the idea of seamless connectivity between Wi-Fi networks on the move is not even a possibility.

This was the conclusion of a panel discussion during this week's NetEvents in Barcelona where, although the industry experts expected progress, they acknowledged an entirely smooth transition was unlikely to happen.

Chris Cox, marketing manager at IP Access, said: "We have got a Wi-Fi install base. It is somewhat fragmented, with some proprietary, some owned etc... and you have a cellular network."

"Cellular carriers have a strong investment in infrastructure, great national coverage [and] some dead spots. You will see Wi-Fi improve in its ease of use but it will always be slightly fragmented... and will therefore not be as smooth a service as you get from cellular."

Natasha Tamaskar, vice president of product marketing at Genband, said the problem could be solved if caution was thrown to the wind. But she added that it wasn't a wise idea.

"For mobility on its own, [with] seamless handovers, if you dont look at any of the concerns of security it is probably an easier problem to solve," she said. "But with applications, such as doing finance on your iPhones and iPads, you cannot ignore it [and] it is a pretty hard problem to solve."

However, although her colleagues and industry insiders agreed, Tamaskar claimed users were not so understanding.

"It is something users will not want to accept... unless its seamless it is not good enough," she added.

Dean Bubley, founder of Disruptive Analysis, agreed seamless connectivity could never happen but thought this was a necessary evil.

"Seams are boundaries and so are important," he said. "Although sometimes the users don't want to know about them, if something happened - a change in speed, price, security et al - the application needs to know about it, even if the user doesnt."

Richard Webb, analyst at Infonetics Research concluded the discussion, agreeing there were a lot of challenges ahead to make seamless Wi-Fi happen. He didn't "really see that it will [work]," but questioned the use model of the technology.

"Where is it fit for purpose? It is a local technology, yes its reach is expanding, but... it is an imperfect technology (for wide area). Also you have the cellular network becoming more local with femtocells," he said.

"In a religious way, you could see they are encroaching on each other... but i don't see it like that. It is making the best use of available connetcivity for whatever you are doing on whatever device."

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.