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So here's the question - what's the saturation rate required for WiFi hotspots before you'd feel comfortable not having an active SIM in your phone? As in, would the knowledge that 80% of the places you usually go have internet access - for messaging, and VoIP, and other uses - put you at ease for not having an active cellphone plan?

How about 60%, or would it take more, like 80% or 90%? How often do you not have data coverage with your current carrier; how often are you in a dead spot where you can't make calls?

There's a tipping point somewhere, when Google can say "look, we can offer you WiFi coverage in XX% of the locations you're normally in" (Google Now is already counting your steps; why not track potential hotspot access too?) and sufficient people will think "yeah, hang on, why am I paying AT&T/etc. $xxx a month?" and the risk of being outside of WiFi coverage is seen as worth taking in return for the savings.

Update: Sources close to the story now tell me that Google hasn't, in fact, acquired ICOA. This all seems more than a little mysterious. 

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Ron Pemberton's profile photoBarry Leonard's profile photoTim Box's profile photoChris Davies's profile photo
11 comments
 
I'd say something like 50% of locations visited. But I need it during commutes and travel more like 100%
 
Interestingly, six or seven years ago it was predicted that WiFi would be more widespread taking over cellular.
Nowadays, cellular is taking over domestic broadband. 
 
I rather wonder what happened to WiMax (= WIFI with mile range)? Why isn't it developing and being adopted?
 
I would actually like to go the other way - use 3G (backed up by WiFi) and drop my voice/SMS service. Shame Google Voice has never materialised over here
 
I hope that Google can shake things up. It's in their best interests to keep people connected and googling all day long.
Tim Box
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What I think they would be after is you can keep using a phone with basic call functions for, like calls and emergencies. But your data heavy needs you use the Wifi.
The end result is Google can sell phones that can be updated in a timely manor without the likes of AT&T and Verizon's blocking it.
 
Agree with +Tim Box , it is all about the 3G to Wi-Fi offload. Free up the cellular for calls, sms and have the bandwidth hungry smartphones, which are the norm now, on Wi-Fi hotspots.
 
Most important to me, under proposed circumstances, would be the continuation and further development of Google Voice. I have witnessed an increase in bugginess and online complaints. I fear Google may abruptly drop it like a hot brick.
I hope you tech media guys will investigate this and rekindle Googles interest. 
 
Brilliant question with so many variables I could not begin to answer. A question for city folk only as country folk can barely get phone signals in places never mind a hot spot. 
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