High and confusing prices 'hampering' Wi-Fi take-up

Customers, especially corporations, are being put off from embracing Wi-Fi because the pricing is 'all over the place', industry figures have been warned
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Wi-Fi take-up in Europe is being hampered because the prices being charged are generally too high, and also vary widely between operators, a senior analyst claimed on Wednesday.

Speaking at The Wireless LAN Event in London on Thursday, Ross Pow -- managing director of Analysys Research -- said that the Wi-Fi industry was "all over the place" with its charging models.

"This fragmentation, and what is in effect often a very high price per hour of access, is very off-putting for customers, especially corporate customers," Pow said.

A year's subscription to a UK-wide Wi-Fi network can cost an individual up to £1,000 per year. BT Openzone charges £85 per month for unlimited access to its hot spot network, although more competitive pricing is available to businesses who buy a multi-user licence. Megabeam charges a similar amount, for a service that covers several European countries.

Smaller operators such as Internet Exchange charge lower prices for access to their hot spots, while Broadscape has begun operating "virtually free" wireless networks in London.

Such a range of offerings, and prices, are understandable given the nascent nature of the Wi-Fi industry, but according to Pow they are a handicap in terms of take-up, especially in the enterprise space.

"This variety [of price points and pricing models] puts doubt into the mind of those who have to pay for corporate access," Pow warned.

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