Public wireless computer networks or Wi-Fi hotspots will see fast growth over the next five years, with the number of hotspots worldwide increasing to over 200,000 locations from about 28,000 in 2003, according to a study released Thursday.
The study, by US technology research firm Allied Business Intelligence, predicted that revenues generated by Wi-Fi hotspots will rise to US$3.1 billion in 2008 from US$59 million this year.
The study also found that while North America has the largest number of hotspots currently, with 12,400, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to overtake North America by 2008.
Wi-Fi hotspots recently won endorsement from a number of major corporations, including Intel, making airports, hotels, coffee shops and even McDonald's restaurants into locations where a notebook computer user can connect to the Internet, without plugging a cord into a telephone line jack.
"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.
Shelton believes selling Wi-Fi services combined with cellular and other operator offerings could help stimulate consumer interest in hotspots. "There are some terrific opportunities for operators to start bundling services, offering consumers a more data intensive usage model, as well as a more compelling package of benefits and value," Shelton said.
The ABI study examines only commercial Wi-Fi hotspots. The figures on Wi-Fi hotspots in its report exclude free, publicly accessible locations such as in parks and on college campuses.
(People's Daily July 11, 2003)