Public WLANs Growing Rapidly in U.S.

About 21 million users in the U.S. will access public wireless local area networks (WLANs) by 2007, according to a new report released Thursday by research firm Analysys.

Those public WLANs, based on the 802.11 standard, will be located in places such as airports, malls and hotels and will offer fast access to the Internet using a variety of devices such as handhelds and wireless phones and well as laptops.

There currently will be about 3,700 such hotspot public access points in the U.S by the end of that year, a number that will grow to 41,000 by 2007, according to the report. That access will generate about $3 billion in revenue.

In addition, more than 91 million devices such as handhelds and laptops will ship in the next five years with the ability to connect to the public WLANs, the report predicts.

However, while growth will be rapid, operators still have some hurdles to overcome. For instance, the operators must have roaming agreements with each other for traveling users.

“For the market to accelerate as we expect, it’s imperative for service
providers to offer better location information and network detection software as
part of well-presented service propositions with appropriate security and
pricing,” said report co-author, Monica Paolini, who is based in Analysys’ San Francisco office.

The findings are in the report: Public Wireless LAN Access: U.S. Market Forecasts 2002-2007.

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