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Are hotspots really that hot?

19 November 2003 News

ICASA has finally made a decision on the legality of wireless 'hotspots' in South Africa and it appears that everything is go for the rollout of what is the foundation of mobile computing - wireless connectivity.

"The fact that hotspots are now legal may not spur a sudden rush of 'hotspot' deployment," says Steve Nossel, country manager for Intel South Africa. "In fact we are unlikely to see very much uptake on this new technology until the cost of mobile and fixed line bandwidth to support it comes down."

"One of the unfortunate side-effects of South Africa's monopolistic telecom structure is the cost of bandwidth," says Nossel. "Broadband here costs the equivalent of about $120 per month, or around R800. Over a 12 month period this translates to about R9600 for bandwidth. When you consider that you can buy a new computer for less than R7000 today, consumers and business users are questioning whether having broadband at all is worth it. As a result, the growth of the wireless computing market in South Africa may remain low."

Internationally, analysts last year predicted that by the end of 2003, wireless hotspots would number around 37 000 worldwide. This figure has since been revised to 71 000 as the demand for wireless services in countries that are not constrained by telecom monopolies or strict government control. Additionally, analysts at Gartner predict that by the end of 2005, 80% of notebook computers in use would feature integrated wireless connectivity. By the end of 2008 more than 167 000 wireless hotspots will have been deployed.

Adds Nossel, "It seems ridiculous that while PCs have become more affordable than ever before, the price of using the Internet or communicating with a corporate network remain as high as they are. The kind of growth in wireless communication that regions such as the USA and Europe have experienced may not occur here as the costs of communication remain restrictive. It is up to business and consumers alike to pressure government and telecom providers into making bandwidth cheaper and more accessible to a wider market."

For more information contact Steve Nossel, Intel SA, 011 806 4530, steven.nossel@intel.com





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