Keeping it free

Wi-Fi technology has seen its annual unit sales grow to more than 100 million chipsets in six years. More than 120 million Wi-Fi chipsets were shipped in 2005, according to data released by In-Stat and the Wi-Fi Alliance. “The explosive 64% average yearly growth rate reflects the transforming nature of Wi-Fi and the value of interoperable, standards-based technology,” says Gemma Tedesco, senior analyst at In-Stat.

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By  Angela Sutherland Published  May 14, 2006

|~||~||~|Wi-Fi technology has seen its annual unit sales grow to more than 100 million chipsets in six years. More than 120 million Wi-Fi chipsets were shipped in 2005, according to data released by In-Stat and the Wi-Fi Alliance. “The explosive 64% average yearly growth rate reflects the transforming nature of Wi-Fi and the value of interoperable, standards-based technology,” says Gemma Tedesco, senior analyst at In-Stat. On the home front, Wi-Fi is starting to gain momentum. The region is ranked as the fastest growing wireless market in the world. Due to its lack of infrastructure, enterprises in the region are attracted to wireless technologies. Wi-Fi may have started out as the technology for business travelers who needed an easy way to go online while on the road, however, businesses are using the technology to replace costly wires or provide connectivity in hard-to-reach places. However, IDC’s Worldwide Hotspot Forecast, 2002-2007, has a slightly different story. It says despite the rapid growth in both the number of Wi-Fi locations and the number of users worldwide, the hotspot market is still in the early stages of development. The report states it is imperative to remember that this market is still exceptionally young and rife with uncertainty. Most business models are not yet proven, or even solidified, and the competitive landscape is still unclear. The hard work needed to achieve Wi-Fi’s promise still lies ahead. Furthermore, a new survey carried out by Toshiba states Wi-Fi usage has still a long way to go before it really catches on. The survey done in the UK reveals end users are still wary of flicking the Wi-Fi switches on their laptops. According to the study, 23% of end users do not use wireless technology because they do not want to pay for access time. Although this survey talks about the UK market, end users have similar business philosophy worldwide. They do not like paying for something that is considered a luxury; hence it is critical for emerging markets like the Middle East to provide Wi-Fi connections free of charge until the technology has matured. On another topic, the NME award is just around the corner, and there is not much time left for businesses to participate in the nomination process. Such events provide a great platform for organisations to showcase their solutions and services in the Middle East. ||**||

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