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 After seeing Wi-Fi settings on the phone, the salesperson then told me that Wi-Fi was outdated and insecure anyway.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?
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