Companies will be hard pushed to make any money out of public access wireless local area network (Wlan) services, experts have warned.
Over the last year, Wlans have been popping up in hotels, airports and coffee shops allowing users to access the internet and email with their own wireless-enabled laptops.
Chris Lewis, vice president of research company Yankee Group, warned that the business case for providing Wlan services via these 'hot spots' was not "clear cut".
He explained that mobile operators will try to offer Wlans as a means to fund plans to move to third-generation services, but that competition could come from a very different quarter.
"It is more likely that a company like BA will offer services as part of an executive package," said Lewis. "The business case is simple for the end user - they will use it. It is not so clear for the mobile operators."
He maintained that businesses could profit from Wlan services as they would lead to more productivity, saying that it was up to "different service provider partnerships to ensure that users, with whichever device, can continue to use applications wherever they may happen to be".
Martin Cook, business development consultant at Cisco, added that mobile operators had shown an interest in public access Wlans, but that "they have yet to build a business case. I think we are going to see a lot of interesting failures among the smaller players."
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