WLANs On The Rise In Public Area Access Market

By ISP-Planet Staff

January 16, 2002

Wireless access is replacing the use of kiosks in the public access arena as providers seek out more profitable business customers, and prepaid subscriptions replace pay-per-use services.

Cahners In-Stat/MDR reports that wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) connectivity has changed the public access market in two ways. First, WLAN deployment has shifted focus from residential access to business travelers. And second, wireless service providers are utilizing the subscription-based business model.

Amy Cravens, In-Stat/MDR industry analyst, said cell phone use has become principally a consumer-oriented product/service, but that public broadband connectivity continues to be corporate-driven and is targeted to meet the needs of the business traveler.

"Service providers and hardware manufacturers in this space are intently focused on enabling those applications that are most demanded by business travelers and ensuring a level of network security appropriate for the confidential corporate content that will flow over them," Cravens said. "While kiosk access is, principally, a pay-as-you-go service, WLAN providers base their revenue model on pre-paid subscription plans."

Driving demand
Among the drivers most critical to the success of public area WLANs is the corporate adoption of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), corporate conversion to notebooks, and wireless roaming agreements. In-Stat/MDR believes that while there are barriers that have impeded the success of wireless public access to date, the events of 2001 and 2002 have, and will, move this market toward maturity. Additional findings include:

  • At present, the primary public area access market of interest, for wireless connectivity, is the airport. Convention centers are also being targeted as prime locations for public area access. Other locations, notably cafis, train stations, and airplanes, have received considerable attention as emerging wireless locations, yet these arenas are not as fully developed in terms of technology and business models as the airport environment.
  • North America, despite certain regulations and disputes, will remain the predominant public area access market throughout the forecast period. The strength of the North American wireless public access market is largely derived from its corporate culture.
  • Wireless public area access service revenue is expected to grow from $3.9 million in 2001 to $224.7 million in 2005.



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