A cash and carry approach to wireless hotspots has helped networking vendor, NetComm, to significantly grow its implementation numbers.
Since February, the company claims to have sold more than 150 NetComm hotspot solutions.
IDC figures show there were 380 primary commercial wireless locations as of the end of March. This number refers to independent hotspot deployments as opposed to those shared between businesses.
NetComm executive director, Michael Boorne, was modest about the growth.
He said it was very early days for the market.
Nevertheless, NetComm expected wireless hotspots to become commonplace.
“The market started in mid-2003 with hotspots in obvious locations such as airports and branched out from there,” Boorne said.
People had resisted hotspots to date for several reasons, he said.
The idea of a hotspot first had to be sold to a company, as it was not the kind of thing people who ran coffee shops, for example, actively pursued.
In addition, the current pricing and business model was a hindrance and turn off, Boorne said.
Typically, people had 20 minutes or so to kill and were more likely to read a paper than go through the process of logging on.
“You have a laptop, you turn it on, fire up Explorer and then you have to read through a couple of screens full of terms and conditions and enter your credit card [details],” he said. “It doesn’t give you the Web straight away.”Boorne said NetComm’s solution worked around this problem as it provided a “cash and carry” approach where a user was issued with a unique user name and ID after paying at a shop counter for the block of access time they desired.
Hotspot owners were also free to set their own pricing structure for access time, which was part of the solution’s success, he said.
“If the amount charged for the connection is acceptable [to customers] there is no real resistance to [hotspots] as you don’t have to think about anybody’s terms and conditions and you don’t have to give your credit card [details],” Boorne said.
NetComm expected to generate at least $2 million in revenue over the next 12 hotspot solution and up to $400,000 for the same period through the on-sell of peripherals such as ADSL modems and wireless connections.
A radius server model allowing a build back to a central server and an office model based on restricting Wi-Fi access would follow from NetComm in the next two months.
Smaller resellers who were interested in supplying the service required to manage the hotspots would benefit from NetComm’s growth, Boorne said.