Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, chances are you have one or more devices that can happily hook up to a wireless network. Whether it is a phone or tablet you also use over cell phone 3G or 4G, or your laptop, hooking it up to a good wireless network often offers the best and cheapest solution when you want to be online. But how do you do this when you are outside of the obvious places like coffee shops and airports where free WiFi is always on hand? Here we take a look at why outdoor wireless networks are becoming a bigger deal, and why in the future they may well be deemed essential in major regions.

wireless area mapping using google earth

Convenience is Key

It may seem like most people can get by with their mobile internet from their cell phone service provider, however, you have probably noticed that people tend to congregate with their laptops and tablets in places that offer free WiFi, whether it is coffee shops and bars, bookshops or airport lounges. This is because while cell phone service providers do offer decent speeds of internet connection, these often come with serious limitations and are only often suitable for general browsing, for example checking up on your email, looking at Facebook or other low bandwidth web activities.

For streaming music or video, as most people do a lot now, or for things like having business conversations over voice over IP services (such as Skype), a more reliable connection without these limits is preferable. This is why so many people choose to use their laptop in their local Starbucks and pay for coffee rather than use a 3G dongle and pay less to their internet service provider for what they use than the coffee costs.

Small and Wide Scale Wireless Networks

It is possible to set up a good wireless network across a mid sized area, such as across an office or even a school campus, fairly easily. This is something universities and major corporate office complexes have been doing for many years now. You can also find networks of this sort of scale in big hotels, or even at airports. However, when the concept becomes really interesting from a future IT trends point of view is when systems like this are deployed across whole cities. There have been fully wireless enabled cities in the world since around 2007, where local governments have worked with IT infrastructure companies to create full WiFi throughout the town. These may not yet be commonplace, but given how having constant reliable internet access is becoming more and more a major part of our lives, it seems to be only a matter of time before the majority of cities start to invest in these kinds of networks.

At the moment, we rely mostly on small networks such as those in the places we frequent, and in our offices and homes for our internet access, and use our cell phone networks the rest of the time. Over the coming years, we expect this to change and widespread outdoor internet to become more available.