updated 12:15 pm EDT, Mon March 10, 2008
Ericsson on Wi-Fi hotspots
The end for Wi-Fi hotspots may already be in sight, claims the chief marketing officer of telecom multinational Ericsson. Speaking today at the European Computer Audit, Control and Security Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, Johan Bergendahl commented that at least in Europe, cellular broadband is growing so rapidly that it is surpassing any rate ever achieved by either mobile or fixed voice networks. "In Austria," says Bergendahl, "they are saying that mobile broadband will pass fixed broadband this year."
"It's already growing faster," he adds, "and in Sweden, the most popular phone is a USB modem." More importantly, the cost of a cellular broadband subscription is on average €20 ($31) per month, and 3G-level HSPA receivers are being built into notebooks. For these and desktop systems, users can also choose to use tethering or external modems.
As a consequence, people who do not need bandwidth for gaming or high-speed downloads can choose cellular broadband as a replacement for landline Internet connections. "Hotspots at places like Starbucks are becoming the telephone boxes of the broadband era," Bergendahl argues. "In a few years, it [HSPA] will be as common as Wi-Fi is today."
Several problems are blocking cellular broadband from general adoption, notes InfoWorld. It is not available in some portions of Europe, and it is even less commonly available in otherwise rich countries such as Canada and the United States. Data roaming is also extremely expensive, a fact that may be deterring businessmen from cellular given the need for travel.
Bergendahl also worries that hotels may be actively trying to halt cellular signals in their buildings. "They see data access as a business opportunity."