Public WLANs On The Rise

In-Stat/MDR reports that wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) connectivity
has changed the public access market in two ways. First, WLAN deployment
has shifted focus from residential access to business travelers. And second,
wireless service providers are utilizing the subscription-based business

Amy Cravens, In-Stat/MDR industry analyst, said cell phone use has become
principally a consumer-oriented product/service, but that public broadband
connectivity continues to be corporate-driven and is targeted to meet
the needs of the business traveler.

“Service providers and hardware manufacturers in this space are intently
focused on enabling those applications that are most demanded by business
travelers and ensuring a level of network security appropriate for the
confidential corporate content that will flow over them,” Cravens said.
“While kiosk access is, principally, a pay-as-you-go service, WLAN providers
base their revenue model on pre-paid subscription plans.”

Driving demand
Among the drivers most critical to the success of public area WLANs is
the corporate adoption of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), corporate conversion
to notebooks, and wireless roaming agreements. In-Stat/MDR believes that
while there are barriers that have impeded the success of wireless public
access to date, the events of 2001 and 2002 have, and will, move this
market toward maturity. Additional findings include:

  • At present, the primary public area access market of interest, for wireless
    connectivity, is the airport. Convention centers are also being targeted as
    prime locations for public area access. Other locations, notably cafis, train
    stations, and airplanes, have received considerable attention as emerging
    wireless locations, yet these arenas are not as fully developed in terms of
    technology and business models as the airport environment.
  • North America, despite certain regulations and disputes, will remain
    the predominant public area access market throughout the forecast period.
    The strength of the North American wireless public access market is
    largely derived from its corporate culture.
  • Wireless public area access service revenue is expected to grow from
    $3.9 million in 2001 to $224.7 million in 2005.

The report, How
Hot Are Hotspots? The Developing Market for Public Area Access

explores the markets and technologies driving wireless public area access,
in addition to various other segments for public area access.

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