Public Wi-Fi still has look and feel of dead duck

Grand Unification Theory

The public WLAN market is too volatile and won't make any money until 2008. Says who? Says PA Consulting's Dr. William Webb. He informs Electronics Weekly that WLAN hot spots "aren't making anyone money and will only come into their own as part of an integrated communications network in 2008".

Dr. Webb is to give a keynote next week at The Wireless LAN World Congress in Vienna. We confidently predict that there won't be a dry eye in the house when he delivers his message.

Webb reckons that bluetooth phones, such as the new BT/Ericsson Bluephone, could provide the glue in the first steps to unified networks in which hotspots will play a role. In the meantime he notes the lack of proven business models, lack of roaming agreements and huge variations in pricing.

"The average price for monthly unlimited usage is much, much lower in Asia Pacific and the US than it is in Europe," Webb told Electronics Weekly. "It's around $17 versus $119. It seems crazy, doesn't it?"

Some of the players are trimming back their plans too. This week, Verizon announced that it was cutting in half the number of projected PWLAN hotspots in New York, from 1,000 to 500.

The Register has banged on for months about the Wi-Fi Bubble. Now the number crunchers and analysts are providing the figures to support our bearish assumptions. ®

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