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You Can Run . . .

But you can't hide--at least you won't be able to when the world goes wireless. What will the Wi-Fi revolution mean for your business?

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This story appears in the June 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Consider this: Pretty soon, you won't be out of touch with the office ever again. It won't matter whether you're searching for enlightenment in the Himalayas, a suntan in Polynesia or a sale in Kabul. Internet access points are planned for all those places--as well as coffee shops, hotels and other heavily trafficked points in between. There will still be places to hide out, but not in the airplanes flying overhead. Internet access is coming to air travelers with 802.11-enabled (Wi-Fi) notebooks, too. Never having to miss a single e-mail or afternoon-long videoconference has its good and bad points, of course. Connectivity increases your opportunity to work anywhere, at any time, but it also interrupts you while on vacation. Think of it as a continuation of your pager and cellphone experiences--times 10.

It won't happen tomorrow or next week, and wirelessness won't replace the wired network, an indispensable backhaul for high-speed communications. But it may accomplish something that the FCC has failed miserably at--loosening the Baby Bells' stranglehold on the "last mile" of communications. Unregulated wireless bands offer would-be ISPs the opportunity to end-run entrenched telecom interests--not just with Wi-Fi, but also with fixed wireless and other radio types.

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