Chinwag's Old Blog: There's 3G Routers in The Water

OK, so that's not strictly true and on the face of it not a great idea to put expensive and sophisticated electronic machinery into water. It might be fun to watch, and if blowing up things is your bag, try out some Smartie pyrotechnics à la Big Clive (Warning: not for the faint-hearted or children or chocolate lovers).

What am I on about? It started with a post to the uk-wirelessmarketing discussion list earler this week. Josh Dhaliwal wrote, "And what of Hutchison Telecoms recent purchases? - Powwow and Superdrug??? Now this might sound totally ridiculous but a little bird told me last week that Hutchison were installing 3G routers in powwow water coolers - and I'm not so qualified as a technologist to be able to question the viability of
this - anyone?"

Maybe this is one for the urban myth websites, although Steve Flaherty thought there just might be something in it, emailing "Powwow water coolers - I doubt that they would install routers within water coolers as this is part of the network switching technology. Routers themselves are v expensive and you would not want a gallon of water sitting above one. So what would they put in a water cooler - my best guess is a Pico cell. This would give 3G coverage inside the offices of anyone with a Powwow water cooler. Therefore filling any gaps in coverage and enabling in building 3G applications." Although you could sense some doubts when he added "I am however guessing and may be talking out of my rear."

Whilst it smacks of grand conspiracy theories, or ingenious corporate strategy, there's certainly something in it. Perhaps 3G routers, even the small ones that Steve mentions are too expensive to stick in your average water cooler, maybe there's other uses? Funnily enough we've just had a water cooler installed and I wonder what our office manager's reaction would've been if we had the opportunity to hire a water cooler with a built--in ADSL/cable modem and Wi-Fi access point which we could use to network our office.

So, when I read that Shell have 210 pico-cell transmitters on their station forecourts (I thought you weren't supposed to use a mobile phone in a petrol station) and McDonald's have 120, it begins to make more sense, especially when you consider the possible earnings of £1,000/year. I wonder if anyone's considering gluing one to the side of their house?

The potential of distributing these transmitters through water coolers, computer, IT or other office furniture suddenly seems like quite an opportunity. Time to crank up Excel and check the business case. Maybe.