Finland no comprende computers

Schizo-Janne asks why Finland is lagging behind in WLAN deployments. There are roughly three free ~WiFi hotspots in Helsinki, a major difference to our neighbour Tallinn, which has open ~WiFi almost everywhere in the city center. Well, the Finnish cities of Oulu, Turku, and Lahti have already started lacing themselves with WLAN networks, and the Lappeenranta University of Technology WLAN network is to my understanding also spreading into the city, so the situation is not really that bad.

But Janne is right to ask this. Finland is not really very innovative in this area at the moment, partly because it's not seen as very important. A lot of Finland's technological and financial innovation is currently poured towards the 3G (aka WCDMA, aka UMTS) development and deployment. While technologically it offers a similar solution to WLAN, and Finns are doing pretty well in mobile phone usage (though nowhere near the top), there is one key difference that people tend to ignore when talking about these things.

Freedom to innovate.

In order for you to develop a fancy new 3G app, you need to talk to and appease operators, cell phone manufacturers, and all sorts of different companies that are in the so-called "value chain". Everybody wants their small piece of it, and you end up thinking about things like "brand dilution" and "quality of service" and "code signing". All this creates quite a lot of energy, and it does not guarantee that you will create a good app - it just means that you are really good at presenting your case, and it does make sense to a lot of people. Even if you wanted to just build a simple SMS-based service, you would need quite a lot of investment of at least time, if not capital, to interface with the network: you need the PC with a bunch of cell phones attached. Or buy a platform from an operator.

Open WLAN, however, means that you can start to innovate at very, very low costs. Web space is cheap, PHP can be done by anyone, and startup costs are minimal. All you need is the idea, and the tools and the knowledge are mostly there already. Granted, you can also run a browser-based application on a 3G phone, no problem, but this always is at cost to the user: the browser-based UI is not optimal for a small device. And developing an optimized GUI for a mobile device is difficult and sometimes nerve-wrecking.

You can split the space in two ways: you can concentrate on innovating vertically : building entire solutions from the low bits to the end application. Or you can innovate horizontally - build platforms which allow other people to innovate and build upon.

3G or WLAN.

It's just like "Nokia or Linux".

I'm not saying Nokia wasn't a success, obviously it was (and is). But I do believe that in the future, it's more probable to see a new Linux-like success story than a Nokia-like success story coming from Finland. Which is why supporting platforms for free innovation would be so important.




Comments

Where are the three free wifi spots in Helsinki?

--193.130.85.60, 31-May-2005


I know of Cafe Kiasma, Cafe Lasipalatsi and ... I forget the third one. I'm sure a reader will fill in :-)

--JanneJalkanen, 31-May-2005


Wlan is basicly the same as PC, because there are not too many mobile wlan devices. And if there are, you are useing the same applications your are using with your PC. So in that sense you are comparing the ecosymtems of PC and mobile world.

Operators are partly hindering the evolution of the services in our handsets, but the ecosystem works because everybody gets their share of the revenue.

What are wlan networks but coffee-house sidekicks. I certainly don't think we should build these with tax-payers money and leave the wellfare pocket wanting. The need for these is not that critical yet.

Wlan can't give you the coverage of cellular network. Not anywhere in the world. You would have to have a cellular tranmitter anyway in wlan device if you want absolut coverage. The tech isn' t there to give us such a device in a reasonable price range..

I'm going to buy the 770 though. Mayby my feelings are different after I've used it, but now I think it's mainly goig to be used with my 6630 and 3G network when commuting between Porvoo and Helsinki.

--Henrikki, 01-Jun-2005


Is mbar free?

Also the pub next to Restaurant Kipina... I really need to get one of those wifi finders.

--ChrisH, 02-Jun-2005


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"Main_blogentry_310505_1" last changed on 31-May-2005 13:40:52 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

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