Report forecasts wireless LAN 'last-mile' boom

The ability of IEEE 802.11b to serve as a last-mile broadband access technology is boosting the wireless LAN market still more, according to a report from Alexander Resources Corp., a Dallas, Texas wireless market researcher.

The company estimates that WLAN service revenue for DSL/Cable extensions will reach about US$5.5 billion worldwide by 2007. The growth of last mile/fixed WLAN applications is fueled in the U.S. by users lacking landline DSL or cable service. Alexander predicts these users will turn in growing numbers to WLAN service providers for high-speed Internet access.

The report, "Broadband Wireless LAN: Public Space and the Last Mile," looks at both the public hot spot and last mile/fixed wireless WLAN opportunities. In both areas, an array of network providers are adopting 802.11b, or 11a, access points.

The biggest chunk of worldwide WLAN service revenues, which the Alexander report pegs at $9.5 billion by 2007, will be from WLANs in public areas. The report predicts that 80 percent of all public WLANs will be deployed in cafes, bars and restaurants, but these venues will contribute only a small port of the revenues for the sector.

Instead, the main revenue stream will flow from business users in airports, business hotels and exhibition centers. The report goes so far as to predict that the use of WLANs in such sites as cafes, which have garnered widespread publicity, actually will start declining. The result will 'dead spots' in revenue and service, the authors predict.

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