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End The Wi-Fi 'Hotspot' Tyranny

Posted: 17th May, 2006 By: MarkJ
Cutting the Wires, a mobile solutions provider, has called upon Wi-Fi operators to end the 'tyranny' that is affecting users who regularly connect to the Internet via public Wi-Fi access points. The piece refers to the way in which people are forced to own several accounts with different ISP's:

Laptop and PDA users who need to access their email or corporate applications whilst on the move currently need to subscribe to several accounts - often from a diverse group of WiFi Providers - in order to access the Internet from different public locations.

Mobile business users typically connect to the Internet either between meetings, whilst waiting for a train or aeroplane, or at a hotel, so planning an entire workday around locations that will allow access to a certain WiFi access provider is just not practical. Users are unlikely to be at the same location every time they want to connect to the Internet, so long-term single-provider subscriptions have also proven to be unpopular, since WiFi service providers are likely to be different every time the user wants to connect via a public hotspot.

"It is no wonder that WLAN service providers are struggling to generate a sustainable revenue stream, when they are missing a golden opportunity to address the needs of the end users they are targeting," says Andre Axford, CEO Cutting the Wires. "Instead of playing a crude 'land grab' game that focuses on shop fronts, burger bars, and gas stations, WLAN Service providers should be looking at the longer-term potential of the business-user market."

For business users, pay-as-you-go schemes continue to be too expensive for regular use, with managers already raising objections over costly access charges on employee expense forms. As an alternative, Cutting the Wires has appealed for a solution whereby an end-user could register for a monthly subscription service that would allow him/her to connect to the Internet via any public Hotspot, regardless of the service provider actually on-site. The charging mechanism that would be enable this roaming feature to work would need to be put in place by the industry operators, in the same way that the GSM industry has evolved.

Once roaming agreements were put in place between competing GSM service providers across Europe, revenues from voice traffic suddenly started to rocket, since the end-user was now able to make a call from anywhere, whatever the network, without the need for any user intervention, re-configuration, or on-the-spot credit card payment. Cutting the Wires predicts similar success for the WiFi market, if these lessons are taken into account.


It's worth pointing out that UK hotspot providers have already gone some way to realising this ideal, yet more still needs to be done.

Unfortunately cost is a different matter, with less than a handful of operators, such as The Cloud, providing a monthly subscription plan.
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