Wi-Fi: Why the New World is old news

Wireless looking to Europe and its café culture for the big bucks
Written by Christophe Guillemin, Contributor

Wireless looking to Europe and its café culture for the big bucks

While the US is currently holding the crown of most prominent Wi-Fi champion, by 2008 Europe will be the most important wireless technology market in the world, predicts US research group Insight Research Corporation.

In terms of cold, hard cash, global revenues generated by Wi-Fi technology could reach $44bn in 2008, compared to just $7bn in 2003, according to Insight. And out of that amount, Europe will contribute up to $6.4m – while the US would be worth just $4.5bn.

Robert Rosenberg, president of Insight Research, said: "There are several reasons for this. First, buildings in Europe are older than those in the US. Our buildings are mostly set up for network infrastructures, which isn't the case in Europe where Wi-Fi technology represents an economic alternative to all the hard work [needed to put such infrastructures in place]."

He added that penetration for PCs is lower in Europe, so technology could well undergo a shift towards PCs newly equipped with Wi-Fi.

"In Europe, GSM mobile telephony is already very orientated towards data services, so network access via a mobile device is already part of the mindset," he said.

The population numbers in Europe would also prove attractive for Wi-Fi operators, he said, given they would be able to access a large potential client base in each coverage zone.

His last theory is based on cultural difference. "There's a strong café culture in Europe which backs up the demand for wireless access in an urban environment," Rosenberg concluded.

Intel, a key player in the Wi-Fi sector, shares Insight Research's view. "We think that technology in Europe, notably in France, will develop mostly around Wi-Fi-equipped machines, which would make the Old World our most important market in the sector," said Xavier Petot, head of wireless products at Intel France.

Christophe Guillemin writes for ZDNet France.

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