Wi-Fi Hotspots Are Hot

A recent report by ABI Research says that Wi-Fi hotspots will grow by 40 percent from 2007 to the end of this year.  They say that the greatest growth and largest Wi-Fi availability continues to exist in Europe.  What does this say about current Wi-Fi availability in the US?  A recent layover in the Atlanta International Airport showed me that the  free Wi-Fi model has yet to be accepted by all institutions and organizations.  They were charging $7.95 to $10.95 for a day’s use through different wireless providers.  That was a day I was off the grid.

Challenges facing free Wi-Fi hotspots:

  • Cell phone carriers locking Wi-Fi features out of phones.  During a recent trip to the Verizon store in Greenville, Ohio, one of the salespeople assured me that the Samsung SCH-i760 had no Wi-Fi capabilities.  I knew it did since I had used a colleagues, read online reviews, and seen Verizon’s own product page that specifically states it has Wi-Fi.  I told him it did and politely navigated to the Wi-Fi settings to show him it existed.  After seeing Wi-Fi settings on the phone, the salesperson then told me that Wi-Fi was outdated and insecure anyway.  He said that he was at an airport checking his bank account and hackers made way to his money.  While Wi-Fi can have security issues, what doofus checks his bank account via an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot at an airport? 
  • Competition from 3G, wireless broadband, and other mobile Internet services.
  • Lack of standardization and public knowledge about what Wi-Fi is and it is used.  I have spoken with many people who are learning more about being tech-mobile but don’t fully understand what Wi-Fi is and how it is offered as a service. 

If anything, I believe the iPhone/iTouch has shown us Wi-Fi certainly has a place in our mobile devices.  MuniWireless has an interesting commentary regarding ABI’s report.


What challenges do you foresee regarding free access to Wi-Fi? 

Photo credit: osde8info

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