Europe will lead the world in the growth of Wi-Fi hotspots in 2008, according to ABI Research’s Wi-Fi Hotspots Forecasts. While UK is leading among the European countries, France, Germany, and Russia have also witnessed a marked rise in the number of hotspots.
The research predicts a 40% growth in hotspots across the world in 2008 compared to 2007.
Stan Schatt, vice president and research director of ABI Research, expects retailers to offer free Wi-Fi hotspot models as more and more hotspot owners are seeing Wi-Fi as an operational cost rather than a profit-generating centre.
Schatt said: The first phase is likely to be a free or almost free service for good customers, those who have signed up for loyalty cards. Starbucks’ decision to go to a virtually free Wi-Fi hotspot model is having a profound impact.
According to Schatt, hotspot owners have been realising that the real money is in value-added services and charging for Wi-Fi service would be counter-productive. Moving forward, hotspots may make money by offering services such as movie downloads.
Currently, Radisson SAS offers free high-speed Internet access to the guests visiting its chain of hotels in the UK and other countries.
Free-hotspot.com, a free Wi-Fi Internet service provider, has recently installed its service in two Brittany airports. It is planning further airport installations in the UK and the rest of Europe. The company says that it has installed over 3,000 free hotspots across 18 European countries, and providing free Wi-Fi connections to over 500,000 people each month.