Red-hot growth seen in wireless internet hotspots

The number of worldwide "hotspots" for high-speed wireless internet is expected to grow to at least 160,000 in 2007 from 28,000 this year, a market research firm said yesterday. Allied Business Intelligence said its study indicates the number could be even greater than 160,000 "depending on mainstream consumer adoption". In recent months, wireless fidelity (wi-fi) access points have been multiplying in cafes, hotels and restaurants as a means of offering those with mobile computers access to the web. ABI said the market was still plagued by problems of interoperability -- users often needed to subscribe to several service providers to get access. It predicted that revenue generated by this market had the potential to grow by as much as 121 per cent over the next five years.

"There is tremendous momentum building, but this should not be mistaken for over-hype, as many players in the market are facing the reality of commercial deployments," said ABI, based in Oyster Bay, New York. "In order for this industry to continue its growth, it has to more clearly communicate the technology's benefits to end-users, in order to generate wide-scale adoption," said Tim Shelton, ABI's director of wireless research. Selling wi-fi services combined with cellular and other operator offerings could help stimulate consumer interest in hotspots.

News source: The Age

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