Wi-Fi users could get a single bill even when using a number of different operators' wireless hotspots as roaming providers look to build up their networks.
T-Systems, the carrier division of Deutsche Telekom, has linked 10,000 hotspots through its Wi-Fi roaming platform.
The company plans to connect half the world's public hotspots into the network so that business users can roam between different Wi-Fi operators, and only receive one bill in the same way as mobile phone users.
Although other Wi-Fi roaming platforms exist from companies such as GoRemote, WeRoam and Intel-backed RoamPoint, T-Systems' is currently the largest in the market.
It is adding hotspots from over 120 global Wi-Fi partners, including sister company T-Mobile.
"Wi-Fi providers can generate additional revenues by enabling end users from other providers to roam onto their hotspots," said Frank Opfer, vice president of solutions management at T-Systems, in a statement.
Research from Datamonitor suggests that the number of public hotspots is set to grow to 135,000 worldwide by the end of 2006, compared to less than 32,000 last year.
But Dean Bubley, founder of IT analyst firm Disruptive Analysis, believes that there are now too many roaming providers.
"There seems to be an awful lot of people doing this and you are going to end up with roaming agreements between roaming providers," he said.
"What you are likely to see is some consolidation and a situation similar to cash machines, where most of them have several well recognised clearing house partners advertised."
Bubley added that business users would also want to roam between other forms of connectivity such as 3G and Ethernet.
"If you are in a hotel room you would probably prefer to use an Ethernet cable as it can be faster and you can save on your laptop battery life," he said.
Leon de Beer, a director at RoamPoint, which has linked 5,000 hotspots in Europe, agreed that companies need to look beyond public Wi-Fi to other forms of connectivity.
"Wi-Fi plays a role but in a few years it might be WiMax that we are all focused on, and people will want to roam from that to fixed line as well," he said.
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