Wi-Fi or Whispernet – What’s Best For Kindle?

By choosing to use the wireless Whispernet technology over Wi-Fi for kindle’s data transmission, did Amazon make the choice? To answer this question, let’s look at each technology in detail.

What is the WiFi Technology?
Wi-Fi, short for Wireless Fidelity, is a term coined to represents a wireless technology designed to improve the inter-operation among computers within a network that cover a small geographic area known as “hot spots.” This technology operates within a set of standards (IEEE 802.11a or 802.11b) which are used to transmit data from an internet connection to a host computer within the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz public spectrum.

Any computer or PDA properly equipped with a wireless receiver in a “hot spot,” can access the data via this Wi-Fi network either for free or for a fee.

The good news about this technology is there are “hot spots” just about everywhere. The bad news is these “hot spots” are normally confined to a very short distance from host located in homes, cafes, coffee shops, libraries, airports and other public places. This means that if you are not in a “hot spot,” more than likely you will not be able to access data via the Wi-Fi network.

What is EVDO Whispernet ?
EVDO, short for Evolution Data Optimized, is a wireless standard designed to provide high speed data transmission using the cellular approach. With this approach, a device can transmit and receive data via the same bandwidth or frequency due to its unique signature assigned by a complex mathematical technique. And, because the demand for bandwidth outweighs the amount available, it provides what seems to be the ideal solution for this kind of problem.

Any properly equipped electronic PDA can receive and transmit data via this network as long as it is in a coverage area.

Now, since Sprint and Verizon are the only two companies to have deployed this technology within the United States, coverage areas are restricted to their network areas.

Thus far, there are no coverage areas in Europe, Asia (except for Korea) and other foreign countries…And that’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that once you are in a coverage area, you are not restricted to “hot spots.” Your device can transmit and receive high-speed data at will.

So, what’s best for Kindle? Well, because of Wi-Fi “hot spot” limitation, the where and when of data transmission is severely affected. More specifically, if you find yourself outside a “hot spot,” you can expect data flow interruption.

The whispernet network, on the other hand, is not restricted by “hot spots,” but, is instead limited by coverage areas. That’s not good for Kindle either. This, however is a different kind of problem. What do I mean?

Well, regardless of which network you choose, Whispernet over Wi-Fi, you will still experience areas of data interruption. Whispernet interruptions, though, are far and few between, while Wi-Fi interruptions can be more frequent due to the short range coverage areas. So, the question is, would you prefer non-interruptions in a small area or non-interruptions in a large area? You make the call.

As for me, I would prefer no interruption, but for now I will take the latter – since there’s nothing better right now. With whispernet, I will at least be able to move about freely with my Kindle on a large “piece” of real estate and not worry about data interruption as opposed to being confined one small geographic area at a time without data interruption. All I would need to do is know where the coverage areas are and act accordingly.

So did Amazon make the right choice? I think they did, what do you think?

Leave a comment and let us know.


9 Responses

  1. It’s hard to say whether Amazon was “right” in their choice, but I’d like to think they’ll offer both services in the future. Why not have options? Maybe one flavor of the Kindle could have WiFi while another has cellular. Heck, they could even offer a third model that has both, but costs more than the others.

    Joe Wikert
    Kindleville Blog

  2. What i can think is:

    Amazon should provide software just like iTunes. Where people can get browse and buy books, just like we do songs.

    Second, they should give 2 options:
    EVDO: As current
    WiFi Store: Just like iPod wifi store which is FREE.

    They can reduce the cost of EVDO network maintenance.

    With this they can offer 3 kindles:

    Kindle using software sync: (This is just like AvantGo software for Palm or PocketPC). It will sync all your blogs, books etc from the software using USB with all new request to blog etc.

    No need to have any chip for network access.

    2. Kindle with EVDO; Current model

    3. Kindle with wi-fi.

    Price of books can be lowered in case of #1 and #3. But complex to maintain.

    Donno the reason behind sticking only with EVDO.

    What i can think is: They want to cash in on your idle time.
    For example, if you are waiting in a train station or airport or travelling etc, you want to buy stuff. You browse for books and buy there itself.

    That’s the power of EVDO and brains of Amazon.

    My 2 cents..

  3. And again, due to restriction to EVDO amazon loosing overseas sales of kindles. Otherwise if for Case #1 and #3 in my previous post, the sales would have been doubled or tripled.

  4. Wrong choice. I do not believe you need to be connected ALL the time. It’s for books and periodicals, so you need to be able to connect, well, periodically. Personally, the way I would use it: Shop and download at home and then take it on the go. Of course, I do not have coverage at my home….

    The positive thing about their choice is that it is designed for the technology challenged people–no set up, works out of the box.

    I don’t understand why we can’t have a choice

  5. […] de WIFi en el nuevo lector, lo que dañará sus ventas fuera de EE UU. La conexión celular via EVDO Whispernet puede ser buena para estar constantemente conectado pero no vale en Europa, donde la opción de […]

  6. I think it is better if it has both wi-fi and Whispernet, this way people outside the united states could also purchase Kindle and have the convenience of purchasing books on a wi-fi hot spots. Plugging devices to computer and downloading books from there is so old fashioned and inconvenient.

  7. Ah, come on, they could easily have put BOTH the wi-fi and the Whispernet service in the device. My cell phone (Samsung Omnia) has both and it is greatly appreciated, since we do not get cell service in our sub-division. Many, many people have wireless routers in their homes. I know of several users that are returning their Kindle simply because it won’t work in their home with their wireless router and their internet service provider — a very big drawback. Hopefully Amazon will add both capabilities in the next revision of the Kindle.

  8. The people who answered BOTH (whispernet AND wifi) are correct of course. Why in the world would amazon not put a wifi card in the kindle or at least a slot for an sd wifi card that doubles as memory? The reasons for having one are huge: faster service, service in areas where whispernet does not work, international use and distribution, etc.. I was trying to come up with a reason why amazon would have left out the wifi card and I could not come up with one (I thought they might want to limit the usage to the US as the publishers may have limited e-book publishing to the US only – but then again the e-books are available on their web interface on a PC as well). Maybe it was cost – but then again, wifi cards cost a few dollars to the manufacturer. An open SD slot would even have pushed the cost of an optional wifi card to the user.
    Beats me. In my opinion they lost more then they could possibly win by not playing the all important wifi card.

    • Great point. who knows they may reconsider as they look to go international…it’s never too late.

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