WiFi – it’s Everywhere … and Now With Voice

My local coffee shop and corporate America have one thing in common – they are adopting wireless. WLAN hotspots today are as exciting as the record store of the 1950’s. 

There are lots of players in the market and already some of them are joining forces to increase their chances of success, small operators needing the resources of bigger players.  The enterprise community needs wireless for its notebook wielding road warriors, and consultants Frost & Sullivan expects total subscription revenues in the European WLAN hotspots market to rise from around € 18 million (~$22,664,522) in 2002 to in excess of € 1 billion by the end of 2006.

Frost & Sullivan’s study indicates that the key to success lies in selecting the locations most frequented by business travellers, and it would seem that a marriage of convenience between WiFi and VoIP would be very beneficial.

Boingo Wireless, a CA-based Wi-Fi hot spot operator and aggregator, have just done deals with KPN HotSpots in The Netherlands and The Public Network (TPN) in Switzerland, adding 290 Wi-Fi hot spots in key travel locations in these countries to the Boingo Roaming System. With these new additions, Boingo’s worldwide network includes more than 11,000 hot spots with 5,600 locations in Europe.

Boingo have also set up shop with Vonage Holdings Corp., a leading broadband telephony (VoIP) provider in North America, in an effort to simplify voice over Wi-Fi services and make them more accessible to customers. This move is the first phase of their VoIP strategy, whereby mobile travellers using the Xpro from Xten, can access the Vonage service from almost any Internet connected personal computer.

Boingo and Vonage will conduct a trial before the end of the year and the proposed bundle will include a Xpro SoftPhone from Xten and a headset that will allow the user to communicate over the Internet from any of the Boingo hot spots.

Frost & Sullivan