WiFi has established itself as the quiet achiever while all the attention has been focused on developments in the mobile market WiFi is delivering broadband access to millions of people free!
Overseas visitors are among the largest users as they can bypass the extremely high mobile operators' roaming charges. Backpacker hostels without free WiFi access will not be able to attract business, so there is a very clear business model for them to offer such a service.
Local councils are the latest group of entities offering free outdoor WiFi Hot Spots in order to attract people to their business areas, keep them there for longer, better utilise public spaces, and attract visitors to tourist areas.
High traffic areas such as shopping centres, sporting venues, transport hubs and other places where large crowds gather often experience great difficulty with the existing mobile coverage. In places like this WiFi is not only a welcome service to customers; it also provides a far more cost-effective solution than traditional cellular networks.
The main reason for the somewhat delayed approach to deployment of public WiFi in Australia and elsewhere has been a lack of a commercial business model. The next generation of WiFi technology provides more options for different applications, such as customer service, marketing, location-based services and M2M. However this development led by the Wireless broadband Alliance - is still at an early stage. Organisations do understand the importance of mobility, apps, the smartphone and WiFi, but they are still struggling to find the right models to enable them to benefit from these new technologies.
More general insights on business models, cost benefits, opportunities and risks are covered in our global reports listed at the end of this report.
Updates on Perth, Canberra, Sydney WiFi deployments; Telstra's plans for a national WiFi network costing some $10 million; iiNet contracted to provide free WiFi in Canberra; Telstra signs up with Fon Network for shared WiFi access; market developments to May 2014.