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3Com says that some of its hospitality customers in Ireland are beginning to offer free access to Wi-Fi networks: This is part of a move away from relying on hotspot operators to build and maintain the networks toward building and managing their own Wi-Fi networks. Two 3Com customers, the Lynch Hotel and Bewley’s Hotel Groups, are offering Wi-Fi for free.
If this is indeed the start of a trend, we can expect a couple of developments. Over a year ago in the U.S., there was endless debate on the free vs. fee subject. While it’s still not totally certain how that conundrum will work out, these days in the U.S. it seems that both models may continue to work. In the hotel business, in a strange twist, it seems that the lower cost hotels are offering Wi-Fi for free while often the higher end hotels charge for access. It’ll be interesting to see if a similar phenomenon happens in Europe or if the free vs. fee debate will take a different turn.
This article also touches on enterprises and their use of Wi-Fi, looking at security issues. I’ve noticed a few articles recently pointing to companies that want to allow visitors to access their Wi-Fi networks while preventing the visitors from accessing important information that lives on the corporate network. The need to separate traffic and support other enterprise-grade services may prove an entrée to Europe for the WLAN switch and security appliance vendors. Such companies secured a lot of headlines in the U.S. last year but I’m not seeing much mention of them in Europe yet. As enterprises here begin to embrace WLANs more, perhaps those companies will move into the market in order to support enterprise services.
Posted by nancyg at March 11, 2005 12:08 PM
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