|Hundreds of equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are now flooding
the market with millions of Wi-Fi cards and access points ("APs"
-- wireless hubs). The single Wi-Fi standard ensures these devices all
interoperate with each other, so, for example, an access point made by
KPN will communicate with a network card from Vodafone.
Wi-Fi components are now on a consumer adoption price curve. Rapid commoditization
of Wi-Fi components has triggered steep declines in the price of Wi-Fi
equipment. APs were recently over €1000,-, but are €100 today,
and Wi-Fi cards that were recently €700 now regularly sell for
As prices have dropped, demand for Wi-Fi equipment has soared, resulting
in millions of private Wi-Fi networks being deployed in offices and
homes. Wi-Fi networks have also begun appearing in public spaces.
Wi-Fi is fast, up to 11 million bits per second (11Mb), or over 100
times faster than a modem connection. Wi-Fi is significantly faster
than the "2.5G" wireless services provided by cellular carriers,
which typically deliver throughput between 40k and 60k. The actual speed
experienced by hot spot users is determined by the hot spot's connection
to the Internet, which can range from low-end DSL (384k) to one or more
T1s (1.5Mb and up), but this still promises much faster speed than any
other available technology.
When you factor in the low cost to set up and run Wi-Fi hot spots,
the rapid spread of inexpensive Wi-Fi cards and devices and Wi-Fi's
use of totally free spectrum, it becomes clear that Wi-Fi delivers a
price per bit that no other wireless technology can touch.
With its low barrier to entry and mass appeal, hundreds of thousands
of Wi-Fi hot spots will saturate heavily trafficked areas in the next