Public service wireless local area networks (Lans) hotspots are doomed to fail, industry experts have warned.
Despite the hype, the market for public wireless Lan hotspot businesses will not take off, as the technology will only serve "a paltry 7.7 million users" by 2008, according to Forrester.
"With all the hype today about the roll-out of wireless Lan public hotspots it's as if the dotcom boom and bust never happened," said Forrester senior analyst Lars Godell.
"We believe that much of the money being poured into public wireless Lan today to enable access - from places as diverse as bars, marinas, hotels and airports, as well as train, bus, and metro stations - is being wasted.
"Simply, basic constraints on the number of devices in use, and users' willingness to pay a significant amount for internet access on the go, will limit public wireless Lan users to numbers well short of planned networks' carrying capacity," Forrester said.
For the success of public hotspots, laptops are the killer device for wireless Lan - but only 10 per cent of Europeans today own a laptop, and the research firm expects that only 16 per cent will own one by 2008.
"With all-you-can-eat prices at up to €130 per month, spotty hotspot coverage, unresolved national and international roaming issues, and corporate IT persistently worried about wireless Lan security and standards fragmentation, the hotspot market has a long way to go before take-off," the analyst's research stated.
Forrester also predicted that there will be 286 million Bluetooth-enabled phones, laptops, and PDAs in Europe in 2008, compared with 53 million wireless Lan devices - mostly laptops. But Bluetooth and wireless Lan are complementary technologies that rarely compete.
"Penetration of Bluetooth in phones will rise from 26 million handsets this year to 239 million in 2008," Godell added.
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