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e-business: Telecoms stand to lose out to WLAN.

Fast Internet access over small wireless networks in restaurants, hotels and airports could soon start hurting telecoms operators.

According to research group Analysys, more than 20 million Europeans will use some 90,000 open Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN) by 2006. At the moment there are up to 20,000 WLAN users, most of whom are in the United States.

Corporate users on the road are expected to use these WLANs extensively to get on the Internet and connect to their office, using their laptop, handheld computer or smart cellphone.

Analysys said wireless telecom operators stand to lose some 30 per cent of the third generation (3G) data and voice telephony revenues they expect to generate from corporate employees. 3G networks will be launched in Europe next year by mobile operators such as Vodafone and Orange.

Public WLANs could be generating three billion euros of revenues by 2006 -- and could be reducing average revenue per corporate subscriber of phone networks to around 450 euros a year from over 650 euros.

WLANs offer much cheaper Internet connections than 3G phone networks, because they can be set up with just a few cheap base stations in so-called hotspots such as hotels, cafes, railway stations, public buildings or airports. Unlike a 3G phone network, these local area networks do not cover areas outside the hotspot and can be operated by the proprietor of the venue.

Coffee chain Starbucks has already announced it will install WLAN networks in its outlets.

Analysys expects most problems to be resolved and said airports, conference centres and train stations will almost all have public WLANs by 2006.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 4, 2001
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