Why Netbook 3G / Wi-Fi Selection Must Be Seamless

Self observation: It's interesting how even little things can have a big impact on usability and behavior. When I am in public places and use an unencrypted public Wi-Fi hotspot I want to be as secure as using a 3G connection with proper authentication and encryption enabled. So I use a VPN. However, I manually have to activate it and even though it's only 3 clicks I don't really like to do it. So I am sure if I had a 3G card inside my netbook instead of an external 3G USB dongle I would just not bother with the Wi-Fi and VPN and just get connected over 3G, despite a Wi-Fi hotspot being available. So if Wi-Fi is to become a way to offload traffic from the 3G macro network then a piece of software needs to be available that checks which options there are to connect, selects 3G or Wi-Fi without user interaction and in case of Wi-Fi automatically establishes a secure and encrypted tunnel. Without user interaction, though, that's the important point!

2 thoughts on “Why Netbook 3G / Wi-Fi Selection Must Be Seamless”

  1. That is where the IEEE 802.21 comes into play 🙂

    There are lots of publications about 802.21 and its use for a scenario like the one you just described.

  2. In the US on the iPhone the wifi selection happens automatically as you describe. It’s very simple and user friendly. I goto starbucks and voila I’m on ATT WIFI. I go home, and I’m on the home WiFi. The only catch being it doesn’t use a VPN. There must be an app for that …. Anyway, the basic technology is available today.
    I haven’t verified it – but a friend tells me the latest USB Dongles from Verizon Wireless, switches seamlessly between 3G and Wi-Fi as well, with the Wi-Fi going to a PDG (IPsec) like box. The user is totally unaware of it.

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