June 22, 2004
Wi-Fi wants to be free

And here we have the dark side of Wi-Fi everywhere: It's damn tough to monetize.

Small companies, some publicly traded, are burning cash trying to turn WiFi into viable business. Some have already shut down.

Faster than you can say "industry bubble," skeptics are asking whether wireless Internet connections will become similar to the wired Internet of the late 1990s hot but rarely profitable.

"Anyone trying to build a stand-alone business on WiFi access should be worried," said analyst John Yunker of Byte Level Research. "It's not a stand-alone business, it's an add-on to other communications businesses, the cable bill or the DSL bill."

Well, I did sort of wonder about that. It'll be interesting to see how this market shakes out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 22, 2004 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack

I read this article a few days ago and I agree that it is difficult to make Wi-Fi a standalone business. The adoption rate hasn't really reached critical mass among the average person to make Wi-Fi profitable right away.

However, when more and more wireless devices are introduced and are affordable, the adoption rate may pick up.

In the meantime, larger companies (Verizon, SBC, Time Warner) will dip their toe in and offset the cost with their other profitable business centers.

Posted by: Mike in Austin on June 22, 2004 1:53 PM

Before Wi-Fi can really take off, I think the broadband business (Cable / DSL / T1) needs to grow to the point where it is the standard for Internet access before Wi-Fi can take off. Right now, those using Wi-Fi are ahead of the curve, whether it is used for laptop connections or for setting up a home network (call me a bleeding edge geek for having both).

Neither Wi-Fi nor broadband can make money until they become the common standards in Internet technology.

Posted by: William Hughes on June 22, 2004 2:24 PM