Research into the world of hotspots: ForceNine Consulting said this week that only 17% of the hotspots in the United States are in the places most likely to see major usage: hotels, airports, and convention centers. ForceNine, like most of the industry, thinks the business traveler is driving the hotspot market. They also said the most likely to succeed business models for hotspots would be charging month;y subscriptions like regular ISPs or doing per-session micro payments --the latter will predominate, at least for a while. While they say too many hotspots in coffee shops is retarding growth of the market, another major factor is the lack of nationwide (let alone world wide) roaming agreements.
Meanwhile, according to vnunet.com, Intel started ranking the "most unwired" towns in the United Kingdom based on comparison of population to number of access points (Exeter is number one; London is a woeful number 33). The ForceNine researchers wouldn't be happy with the findings that most of the UK's hotspots -- about 3,000 of them -- are all found in pubs. The locals would likely argue that's where the most work gets done. -- November 14, 2003
Connexion by Boeing, the system that promises to provide broadband hotspots in planes while in-flight, continues to rack up some customers. The latest are Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines. Singapore Airlines plans to put hotspots on board forty of their long-haul jetliners after the middle of 2004. Japan Airlines will likewise have the service in 68 long-haul aircraft. Other airlines announced as ready to use Connexion by Boeing include the Lufthansa and Scandinavian Airlines System, British Airways, and All-Nippon Airways. -- November 12, 2003
Lucent Technologies has signed an agreement with Chinese WLAN and hotspot solution provider Top Global to make Top Global's 3G MobileBridge hotspot hardware works with Lucent's 3G networking equipment for CDMA2000 and UMTS/W-CDMA. The whole point: to provide equipment to mobile WAN providers so they can carry traffic generated at Wi-Fi hotspots -- it's cellular as backhaul. In the future, the two will even do co-marketing and sales. The two companies are demonstrating these products live this week at PT/Wireless & Networks Comm China 2003 tradeshow. Lucent did a similar demo earlier this year with equipment from its labs and that of Bell Labs. -- November 12, 2003
Aptilo Networks is opening up a major new market for hotspots (following its big sale of equipment to Malaysia): this time, in the Middle East. The company has sold products in deals that include WorldNet in Lebanon putting service into Intercontinental hotels' Phoenicia and Le Vendome; Awalnet in Saudia Arabia putting hotspots into Starbucks and Holiday Inns; and HP and others using Aptilo test systems in the United Arab Emirates. -- November 12, 2003
Is it really possible that Silicon Valley doesn't yet have a free hotzone all its own? That's the claim of the town of Los Gatos, who plans to fix that situation this week when they launch access sponsored by the town and the Los Gatos Opera House Banquet and Meeting Facility. The network is being provided and run by local mesh company FireTide (the company's corporate headquarters is in Honolulu but they have Los Gatos offices). Access will extend to the Town Plaza so park visitors with Wi-Fi equipment can surf away. -- November 11, 2003
Hotzone technology vendor Radionet Oy, which recently helped in the first GPRS to Wi-Fi hand off test, is providing the technology behind one of the largest Wi-Fi hotspot roaming operations to date. Seven WISPs with citywide networks in eight areas are Finland will be allowing roaming from provider to provider starting next year. The locations are: Hamina (operated by Haminan Energia), Lahti (Suomen 4G), Mdntsdld (Mdntsdldn Sdhkv), Porvoo (Porvoon Energia), Rauma (Rauman Energia), Vaasa and the Leppdvaara area in Espoo (Netsafir) as well as Vantaa (Vantaan Energia). Together all the areas have a combined population of 400,000 people. -- November 11, 2003
Malaysia is planning a major roll-out of hotspots over the next year. TM Net Sdn Bhd, the ISP subsidiary of the staterun Telekom Malaysia, has ordered enough equipment recently to light up 1000 hotspots. Aptilo Networks of Stockholm, Sweden, had the news, as they'll be providing the hardware, 300 of which will ship before the end of the year. For now, TM Net is working on securing locations for the hotspots, in airports, hotels, and cafés. The country is looking to compete with Singapore and South Korea for the title of Asia's Most Wireless. -- November 11, 2003
Every airport in Norway is going to be going Wi-Fi. Proxim Corp.
has been tapped to provide all the infrastructure hardware. Installation has already taken place at the Oslo Airport in Gardemoen where 200 ORiNOCO AP-2000 access points are installed (under the control of a Nomdadix Universal Subsciber Gateway). The networks are being overseen by Avinor, the Norwegian airport administration. The country's other airports (Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim) should be un-wired by year's end. -- November 11, 2003
Supplier of high-speed Internet access (HSIA) to hotels, STSN, this week announced wide availability of its fixed price Managed Broadband Service (in addition to their revenue-sharing model) that will cover both wired and wireless access. The service is already in use in 200 hotels that don't want to worry about splitting the money. What's more, it is offering four stand-alone solutions that can run with an existing STSN network or as brand new services: a Conference Technology Solutions package for meeting rooms; a Common Area Wireless for lobbies, lounges and restaurants; Internet Kiosks for public area use by people without there own laptops, and a Self-Service Business Center to give not only Internet access but also print, fax and other services in an unstaffed environment. -- November 11, 2003
Portsmouth, N.H., has been working on providing wireless to its citizens through the Portsmouth Wi-Fi Project (PWFP, which is run by the the chamber of commerce's eCoast Technology Roundtable, a group formed from the chamber to promote use of high tech in local businesses) and Port City Web. In fact, they host a site at the offices of Port City Web on Congress Street, and this week said that they've had a Wi-Fi kiosk downtown since June that's seen at least 300 users. It provides anyone in range with free Internet access (after they fill out a demographics survey). The kiosk was installed by Single Digits, a hotspot value-added provider out of Exeter, N.H. Sadly, New England winters are a reality check on such a hotspot: Soon the unheated kiosk will shut down as the snow flies, to reopen next spring. -- Updated November 10, 2003