Public Wi-Fi access business will be a bust

In a report released on June 19, 2003, Forrester states that the money being invested in public access Wi-Fi in Europe by companies seeking to profit from the uptake of wireless networking is largely wasted. Forrester claims that there just won’t be enough people who will carry Wi-Fi enabled devices to make these investments pay off and that those who do carry such devices, for instance, laptops and PDAs, will gravitate towards free hotspots.

What remains to be seen is how much staying power free Wi-Fi hotspots will have and whether they proliferate. With hardware costs plunging and more people enjoying the benefits of the wireless life, it’s my guess that cafes, hotels, and other public venues will offer Wi-Fi access simply as a free service to visitors.


  1. I completely agree with you about the free service aspects of hotspots, except for one thing, turnonver. During busy periods (here in the U.S.) most businesses are looking to maximize the number of customers that flow through. It’s only in the non-peak times that they want customers to linger. So the tables in a Starbucks are at a premium during the morning hours, but completely open during the rest of the day. I’ve had some people propose shutting the hotspot down during peak periods, but would customers stand for it?

  2. I also agree but, we are all forgetting the working models of free public broadcast! That is free avaiability supported by advertising. FM, AM and TV all broadcast at no charge, you just have to sit through the ad spots. I will soon install a free public HotZone but will have the network supported by advertising. This allows internal promotion for using the site because I am receiving revenue from the network therefore I’m able to spend on advertising and promotion of my free WLAN. Not the first one with the idea, but hopefully the first to actually make it work. Sorry T-mobile