Virtual Landgrab for Hotspots Underway

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As a growing number of notebooks, tablet PCs and handhelds are being built wirelessly enabled, the need for public wireless access points - or "hotspots" - is increasing. Accordingly, Wi-Fi hotspots are becoming a highly sought-after commodity, and service providers are rushing to stake their claim on the most desirable ones, says Chris Kozup, Wi-Fi Analyst for META Group Inc., an IT advisory and consulting company. "Wi-Fi is a sexy technology," he says. "Service providers are throwing their hats into the ring wanting to pick up the most desirable hotspots."

Even the education sector has entered the race to secure the most desirable hotspots. While K-12 adoption of Wi-Fi tends to be slower, higher education institutions are very aggressive users of Wi-Fi, says Kozup, with universities creating public hotspots in common areas such as greens, libraries and cafeterias.

As the number of hotspots continues to grow, consumers have to choose from an increasing number of service providers. Kozup warns users to beware of service providers claiming to own and operate the most hotspot locations. While a service provider may offer many hotspot locations, they may be in areas that consumers won't regularly frequent. According to Kozup, "Quantity d'es not equal quality when it comes to Wi-Fi hotspots." - A.D.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.

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