Report: PWLAN market will grow

A report released Wednesday by Boston-based research firm the Yankee Group espouses that North American interest in public wireless local-area networking (PWLAN) is gaining momentum in the mobile computing and networking arenas.

Business users will account for a large majority (86 per cent) of the 4.6 million regular PWLAN users. The research firm forecasts the market to generate US$1.63 billion by 2007.

For wireless carriers, the emergence of PWLAN solutions based on Wi-Fi technology represents both an opportunity and a threat because when integrated with 2.5G and 3G networks, Wi-Fi could compliment the carriers’ service portfolios; provide additional resources; and enable closer relationships with business customers.

“Carriers are well positioned for this space by providing both hotspot access and WAN/LAN integration service to their subscriber base. They can offset deployment costs by leveraging existing investments in the core network, billing systems, customer database and network management,” said Roberta Wiggins, the author of the report.

The Yankee Group forecasts that revenue opportunity represents a relatively small percentage of total carrier revenues. And while WLANs – where available – will be a faster and more reliable solution for remote access requirements, the research firm predicts long-term cannibalization of traffic from 3G to PWLAN systems will be minimal.