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Wireless is in Biz Traveler's Future

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Reports from Intel Corp. and research firms like IDC and Datamonitorsay mobile users will continue to embrace Wi-Fi, even though only 1 in 10 road warriors have tried a Wi-Fi connection, let alone tried a hotspot.Intel's research, based on a survey of 437 business travelers around the world who take eight to ten trips per year conducted by The Brain Group, shows that 71% of those surveyed thing Wi-Fi will enable a "communications advantage over their competition." At least someday it will -- only one in ten of them had even tried Wi-Fi yet, though at least 90% of them felt Wi-Fi was definite part of their future. 70% said their next notebook purchase would include integrated Wi-Fi.

While that seems good, ICD of Framingham, Mass., says that "personal hotspots" are the access that's proliferating -- home use of Wi-Fi is what continues to be up. IDC's study on Mobile Usage Patterns for 2003, conducted among 2500 members of the firm's international Mobile Advisory Council, shows that 27% of those surveyed use Wi-Fi at work -- but 34% use it at home.

Meanwhile public access interest is high, but no one really knows what they'd like to pay for such access.

Intel hopes to alleviate some of that ambivalence with a free day of Wi-Fi at a few thousand locations on Thursday, September 25, as part of its "One Unwired Day" promotion. T-Mobile and other vendors are joining with the chip giant to promote this day where participating hotspots will provide free Internet access to anyone with a wireless device.

While not growing at an amazing clip, public access wireless LANs continue to increase. Datamonitor's report, called "Public wireless LANs: Hotspots - finally heating up?," says that while the Asia Pacific region currently has the most hotspots, North America and the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Asia) region is poised to catch up soon, perhaps surpassing them in overall numbers as early as 2004. Intel's research says Wi-Fi use by business travelers is also highest among Asians, at 17%, followed by the Japanese and Americans, each with 13%.

But, Datamonitor reports that all the prime locations for hotspots -- the business areas like hotels and airports -- are likely to be rolled out with 802.11 access by 2005, so then the pace of growth will slow.

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