Security issues, cost justification and an immature infrastructure are holding enterprise users back from investing in wireless technology.
Speaking at the European Technology Summit at Bloomberg Studios in London, industry representatives admitted that they needed to do a better job of selling the business benefits.
"To an extent the industry has failed to come up with a business justification of why we have a solid business case but we haven't got that message across," said Peter Wissinger, director of the mobile devices division at Microsoft.
The UK has the highest density of wireless hotpots outside the US and Korea, currently around 2,500, according to Intel.
"Wireless Lans are being used. The challenge is the number of users," Rick Skett, country manager at Intel UK and Ireland, told delegates. "Once companies get over the paranoia of security, you'll see far more people using it."
David Levin, chief executive at Symbian, predicted that many more companies would experiment with wireless over the next 12 to 24 months as issues of ubiquity and security were addressed.
"Enterprises are still working out how they unplug; how they add value so that the CFO can justify paying for it," he explained. "It's not a technology issue. It's about having the right business model in place."
But issues of billing, single points of contact and roaming agreements still need to be resolved, according to Peter Kelly, president of enterprise networks at Nortel Networks.
"We firmly believe that 3G and 802.11 are complementary. The real challenge for providers is to move to a service-based model," he said.
Kelly's point was supported by remarks from Gavin Darby, chief executive at Vodafone UK.
"Our relationship is with our customers. In a way, we're technology agnostic," he said. "Ultimately the customer will want a seamless experience."
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