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Half of Wi-Fi hotspot money is wasted

Rip-off Britain goes wireless

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Wireless Event Wireless hotspot usage is climbing, but more than half of the money spent on ad-hoc hotspot access is wasted, according to a survey by Wi-Fi roaming company Trustive.

The company said its research showed that half of the users surveyed were connected for 30 minutes or less per session, and more than a quarter of sessions were 15 minutes or under. With most hotspots charging by the hour, "basically you're wasting half your money", said Trustive co-founder and managing director Bram Jan Streefland.

Streefland said the problem is even more acute for businesses, because most hotspots require payment by credit card, which means the IT manager has no control over expenditure as the user simply pays it themselves and then charges it as expenses.

The answer, he claimed, is to use an aggregator - such as Trustive, Boingo, or iPass - which not only lets you roam across hotspot networks, but which charges by the minute or second, so you don't pay for unused time.

He said that over 100 hotspot operators of all sizes responded to the survey, along with 500 users.

"Email is still the key use for hotspots, but the hotspot operators believe that VoIP will be the killer app," he said. He added that 61 per cent of hotspots are now connected at 2Mbit/s or better, up from 39 per cent last year, which makes VoIP a more practical proposition for cheap roaming calls.

The average number of connections per hotspot per day is 50, but Streefland said that is pushed up by the huge volume handled on sites such as airports. Many smaller hotspots have less than 10 connections a day, he added.

That could change though as Wi-Fi roaming gets easier - the worldwide survey showed that almost 60 per cent of networks already support the WISPr (Wireless Internet Service Provider roaming) spec for one-click access via client software.

Trustive is hosting a conference on WLAN Roaming alongside the larger Wireless Cities and Mobile Broadband conferences at Olympia tomorrow. ®

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