Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be looking to acquire top wireless hotspot locations while the Australian market is still emerging but be careful not to bite off more than they can chew.
That is the opinion of Asia sales director of Canadian wireless vendor Colubris Networks, Pierre Cardinal, who visited the country recently to meet local distributors Integrity Data Systems, Logical Connection and Alcatel.
“ISPs need to understand that the market will flourish but that it will take some time,” he said. “They have to be patient when putting a business plan together or they might run themselves into trouble.”
Cardinal said wireless would be standard within two years now that Windows XP has made it so easy to use and predicted the advent of Intel Centrino would help to force the pace of take up.
He said the Australian hotspot market was at least a year behind its North American counterpart and would do well to learn from its mistakes.
“Mobile Star (now T-Mobile) and HereUR were the first players in the US hotspot market but both went bankrupt because they went large scale too early and the cost of equipment was very expensive,” Cardinal said.
Major traditional players such as AOL, AT&T and Sprint were all starting to take an interest in the US wireless market and Cardinal suggested that Australian ISPs should be getting their services into prominent locations such as hotels, airports, cafés, convention centres and universities before they were swallowed up by the big boys.
As for generating revenue from instillations, Cardinal said ISPs needed to set up networks that were easily expandable as demand grew further down the track and should provide layered services that included premium-rate access for those users requiring add-ons such as extra bandwidth.