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My Problems with WiFi Retail

By Carl Ford June 02, 2010
This is a personal story and I have to admit (the first step), my hands-on experience is not very positive.

For Memorial Day, I asked a friend to come to the house who has been doing wireless installations. I had a number of issues with my house, which is not that large, but you could not tell that from my coverage.

I had bought some WiFi 802.11n products in the past and found them to be quirky at best. For those by one supplier, which will remain anonymous, I could stand in front of the device and still not get a signal. The result was I kept the legacy network alive and well downstairs.  

However, she who must be obeyed (thank you Rumpole), was constantly complaining about the fact that she would end up on the wrong network to reach the printer.

I have a laptop family. (I am sure we will become an iPad-type family over time), but for today the expectation is that anywhere in the house is fair game.

In trying to keep the family happy, I have placed a multitude of devices though out the house, all of which have failed to solve the problems.

So with my friend in tow I went to my nearest retailer and discovered that while we could buy stacks of WiFi routers with 802.11n, when it came to access points, I was hard pressed to find any.

The sales support was willing to promise that reach would be no problem, but my friend new better, and I had previously bought that view (literally) and found it to be false.

The salesman sounded logical to me again, but the my friend smiled and let him talk but clearly had shut his mind to the pitch.
Fortunately, my friend had some access points in his car.

I bring this up because its clear to me the retail market is not adequately stocking for the next phase of support. While my home is connected much better now thanks to friend, if I were trying to make a SmartHome, I would be probably be back in component hell. 

IMHO as the world gets more virtual and its possible to do more online, retailers have to step up the value if we are going to be our own support.

Here is a video to help you with your self deployment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seaYiX3pyUM

And here is a piece of software that can help you verify the coverage is working http://www.metageek.net/products/inssider

For the last few weeks I was speaking of the opportunities for VARs to partner with carriers. The other side of course is for retailers to be more Home Depot-like in hiring trained craftsmen (and women). 

I see a clear gap that needs to be filled, at one point, Jeff Pulver pitched the concept of VoIP Commandos who could install VoIP solutions after some certification. I think the opportunity may exist again as we try to connect more machines to our home network.

Carl Ford is a partner at Crossfire Media.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri

Partner, Crossfire Media

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