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Obama stimulus means windfall for Wi-Fi

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Wireless kit providers will get an enormous boost from President Obama's economic stimulus package if they concentrate on healthcare, education and especially the homeland security market.

An ABI Research forecasts that the $6.8bn earmarked for wireless communications upgrades and new deployments during 2009 and 2010 will have an "enormous impact on Wi-Fi and wireless broadband vendors," with immediate benefits reaped from certain industries in particular.

Another key to stimulus money is to convince folks to put Wi-Fi on everything.

"The ARRA [American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill] represents a windfall for wireless service providers as well as for satellite service providers," ABI vice president Stan Schatt in a statement. "It will have an enormous impact on Wi-Fi and wireless broadband vendors."

The healthcare biz will be itching to add or improve Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices, sensors, and communications systems that will link health networks with the stimulus money, the report claims.

Meanwhile, the education market will want "learning anywhere" equipment that requires purchasing VoIP and WLAN equipment and software to track students' progress for No Child Left Behind record keeping.

But the real money is in selling wireless equipment to the Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Protection, the report asserts. The agencies represent a "potential goldmine" to kit providers, as the government itself will be taking a generous portion of the stimulus money for tactical communications equipment, infrastructure equipment, and security equipment. "Even critical infrastructure construction projects such as bridges and tunnels often require wireless video surveillance systems," ABI states.

The secret for wireless vendors getting a sweet piece of the package is to look "under the surface," and pushing customers to apply for Wi-Fi funds even in unlikely projects.

"A civil engineering project which seems mainly about concrete and steel may actually benefit from a lot of wireless technology," ABI said. "And because vendors can't apply for funds themselves, they are - and should be - doing everything in their power to help their customers do so."

This reporter just noticed his coffee mug is disgracefully lacking 802.11. Where do I sign up? ®

Top three mobile application threats

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