The search for a Wi-Fi business strategy

20 Jun 2007
00:00

Wi-Fi has many positives: primarily its wireless connectivity and high speeds, and its large CPE availability, especially in laptops. But unfortunately it also has many negatives: poor coverage, security concerns, high power consumption, especially for handsets, lack of traffic prioritization and QoS, and unlicensed/classlicense spectrum. Hotspot networks also generally do not allow mobility or hand-over between cells.

These disadvantages can make metro-Wi-Fi deployments difficult, especially in the consumer market. In fact, the disadvantages, combined with market factors, have lead to poor success of two metro-Wi-Fi networks in two of Asia Pacific's most advanced markets, Taiwan and Korea. KT's Netspot and Q-Ware's Taipei Wi-Fi networks have received only limited take-up.

New investment in one has ceased in favor of another technology (WiBro) while the other has been purchased by the Taiwan mobile operator, FET.

There are reasons for the low demand in Korea and Taiwan, such as high levels of availability and penetration of wired internet and other alternatives. The drawbacks of Wi-Fi - namely coverage and mobility - are a significant cause of the low demand. Yet, WiBro with broader coverage in Korea has done no better to date, achieving little take-up.

These networks have failed to attract consumers despite being reasonably priced and among the world's densest global Wi-Fi deployments. They are also in cities that have high penetration of Wi-Fi enabled laptops and devices, and are otherwise generally very technology friendly.

Lack of consumer interest

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