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Companies should sign up for Wi-Fi hotspot services in airports and public areas, to increase the daily productivity of travelling workers by up to 30 minutes.

According to a new report by technology analyst firm Gartner, the number of hotspot users worldwide will more than triple in 2004, from only 9.4 million in 2003.

To take advantage of Wi-Fi, Gartner advises companies to formulate and implement a strategy that would give their employees access to Wi-Fi hotspots, but would also allow the company to control the cost of such access. It warned that if companies did not come to terms with hotspots, then employees would use them and pass the expense on to the company under other expense headings.

"Build a strategy for use of hotspots by employees, but beware of entering into subscription contracts with service providers that cannot supply roaming agreements to meet the enterprise's needs," said Ian Keene, research vice president at Gartner. "Organisations should avoid long-term contracts because this service sector is changing."

Gartner advises companies to supplement subscription contracts with pay-as-you-go hotspot access. They should also track their hotspot usage so that the company will know what to contract for when the market matures further. It predicted that many of the current providers of managed Wi-Fi services would either merge or be acquired during the second half of 2004.

© ENN

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