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A recent study shows that the UK has 34 percent of hotspots in Europe and that the price of access to hotspots is dropping: The study showed that the price of weekly subscriptions has dropped quite a bit this year and that just 10 per cent of access is paid for by regular contract. It’s good news that prices are falling but they’ll need to fall more if hotspot operators are to attract more users.
The city of Trento and some universities have opened up their hotspots to the public: The group deployed the hotspots to develop and try different applications. They’ve opened the network up to locals and tourists. Visit the site for info on how to log on. [Link via Esme.]
Eircom claims title of largest hotspot in Ireland: The Dublin Airport handles 17 million passengers a year (2004 statistic) and should rise to 30 million in the next 10 years. The whole airport now has Wi-Fi service from Eircom through a five-year contract. Service is free until 27 July. When charges start 28 July, service costs €3 for 30 minutes or €30 for seven days.
Eircom has 327 hotspots in Ireland, including four major airports.
(Now why, you might ask, am I covering this from the U.S. when we have a Dublin correspondent? Because Nancy is on vacation in Slovenia; she’ll check out airport Wi-Fi on her return.)
Skype users can make, receive calls at 6,000 The Cloud hotspots for a fee: Skype Zones puts Skype into hotspots via laptops without allowing other services at a reduced rate compared to Wi-Fi access. Tony Smith at The Register notes that The Cloud already had a Skype Zone via the Boingo deal which encompasses The Cloud and 12,000 other locations.
Unlimited access to the still-in-beta Skype Zones costs €2.50 for two hours or €6.50 per month. Pricing may change, The Register says.
Esme Vos writes about the European Union’s decision to add 5 GHz spectrum for unlicensed use: The U.S. has had hundreds of megahertz in 5 GHz reserved for some time, but international interest in 5 GHz has been all over the place because of existing uses and other concerns. The EU will make about 450 MHz available now; member countries must implement these rules by October.
The press release on the announcement notes the use of the same kinds of rules that the US has imposed on the middle 5 GHz chunk. Any unlicensed 5 GHz gear for indoor or outdoor use on any of the spectrum in the EU decision and that middle band in the US must use techniques to sidestep radar use by the military and government agencies. Since radar use is intermittent and in fixed locations around the country (typically), this doesn’t impinge much on the use of these bands.
Swisccom Eurospot will offer hotspots in Hilton hotels in Western and Eastern Europe: The move offers Swisscom Eurospot an entrance into some new markets. Swisscom’s pricing is quite high but Hilton caters to the business traveler and the higher end market so those customers may be able to afford it.
An association of municipalities in Italy and a Wi-Fi company are offering a solution to small Italian towns: The organization and company are offering a package that includes an access point with satellite backhaul for 6,000 euros. What’s missing here is what these municipalities should expect to pay on an ongoing basis for the satellite connection, which is usually a very steep cost.
Visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon can get an interactive tour of Shakespeare’s birthplace: The tourist information office is renting PDAs and visitors can use them to access local hotspots that can connect them to an interactive map and a tour of the town. This is a cool idea but what’s perhaps most remarkable is that the price for rental and the Internet access is 8 pounds. This is quite cheap for hotspot access in Europe.