Free Wi-Fi – At A Price

Analysts expect a dip in sales and consolidation of small wireless providers with the proliferation of municipal and citywide Wi-Fi networks, which offer low-cost and even free Internet service. Dan Lowden, vice-president of marketing and business development at Wi-Fi access operator Wayport, dismissed the opinion, saying he does not see “any type of impact from muni Wi-Fi networks.” Craig Mathias, president of wireless consultancy Farpoint Group, however, predicted that small hotspot providers will “fade or get acquired.” He also suggested that existing operators “cut prices or offer additional services” to compete with muni-Wi-Fi networks. Wireless service provider Boingo believes it can still benefit from the trend. According to a company spokesperson, “most municipal plans have provisions for higher-speed access at varying price points to the user, which provides Boingo with an opportunity to contract with the municipality to provide that higher speed access to our customers for a fee.”
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