Jumping On The Wi-Ba(ndwagon)
By Mike Masnick, Fri Jun 04 15:45:00 GMT 2004

Just as the press is figuring out the difference between Wi-Fi and WiMAX, now they may need to figure out what's going on in South Korea with Wi-Bro.


Prefixes can tell you a lot about what's hot. During the internet bubble years, every company wanted to start with an "e." These days, wireless is hot and it seems that "Wi-" is the way to go.

It started, obviously enough, with the massive success of Wi-Fi -- which was the marketing brand name given to various 802.11 wireless technologies. Suddenly Wi-Fi was everywhere. That success caught the attention of the folks working on the 802.16 standards who felt they wanted to create a similar buzz, and came up with the WiMAX brand name -- making reporters everywhere mistakenly assume it was an upgrade for Wi-Fi (and, it should also be noted, that this naming convention probably pleases the company Wi-Lan, who claims to hold certain WiMAX patents).

All this Wi-Ha(ppiness) hasn't been lost on the folks over in South Korea, where they've been working on a 2.3 GHz wireless broadband technology called high-speed portable Internet (HPi). While they've been hoping to make it a part of the WiMAX standard, US trade officials are concerned about the technology and have put it on their "watch list" of potential trade barriers. Following that news, it didn't take long for HPi to suddenly become reinvented as Wi-Bro -- making it appear more standardized (another trait in common with Wi-Te(chnologies) is their need to hype up the brand name before a standard exists) and more easily integrated into WiMAX. Still, it seems odd that the Koreans seem to be positioning Wi-Bro as the potential 802.16e standard, since .16e is meant to be a mobile solution, and all the reports about HPi (er... Wi-Bro) point out that it's a "nomadic" solution that is portable, but not mobile.