Ericsson predicts demise for hotspots

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

As mobile broadband takes off, Wi-Fi hotspots will become as irrelevant as
telephone booths, Ericsson
Chief Marketing Officer Johan Bergendahl said Monday.

Mobile broadband is growing faster than mobile or fixed telephony ever did,
Bergendahl said.

"In Austria they are saying that mobile broadband will pass fixed broadband
this year. It's already growing faster, and in Sweden, the most popular phone
is a USB modem," said Bergendahl, who was the keynote speaker at the European
Computer Audit, Control and Security Conference in Stockholm.

As more people start using mobile broadband, hot spots will no longer be needed.
"Hotspots at places like Starbucks are becoming the telephone boxes of
the broadband era," said Bergendahl.

A couple of factors will accelerate the move to mobile broadband. In countries
such as Austria, Denmark and Sweden, the average price for a mobile broadband
subscription is only €20 (US$31) per month, Bergendahl said.

Also, support for HSPA (High Speed Packet Access), favored by Ericsson, is
being built into more and more laptops. Ericsson recently signed a deal to put
HSPA technology in some Lenovo notebooks.

"In a few years, it [HSPA] will be as common as Wi-Fi is today,"
Bergendahl said.

But challenges still remain. Coverage, availability and price -- especially
when someone is roaming on other networks -- are all key factors for success.

"Industry will have to solve the international roaming issue," Bergendahl
said. "Carriers need to work together. It can be as simple as paying €10
per day when you are abroad."

Not knowing how high the bill will be after a business trip is not acceptable
for professional users, according to Bergendahl.

Coverage will also have to improve. In the room where Bergendahl spoke, there
was no 3G (third generation) coverage. However, operators are looking at ways
to provide better signal coverage, particularly indoors and in rural areas.

But Ericsson's CMO also suspects a conspiracy.

"They would never admit it, but I think hotels are stopping the radio
signals. They see data access as a business opportunity," he said.

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