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 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 15:15 GMT
Green light for wireless hotspots
Wi-fi users in lobby of Heathrow Hilton hotel
Business users can log on in hotel lobbies and airports
The UK Government has offered another boost for broadband, opening up more of the airwaves for faster net services.

Wireless hotspots have become popular in towns and cities across the UK, allowing business users to connect to the net via their laptops in hotels, airports and cafes.

Now the government has opened up more of the radio frequencies that can carry data, which will allow operators to offer even faster wireless local area networks (WLANs).

"Opening up this radio spectrum will encourage telecoms operators to deliver new and innovative public services," said E-commerce Minister Stephen Timms.

"It will offer the possibility of broadband on the go with services based in public places," he added.

More hotspots

According to Paolo Pescatore, mobile analyst at research firm IDC, the move is a significant one for WLAN technology.

"It will spearhead the drive to get more hotspots," he said.

At the moment BT is leading the pack with a series of hotspot launches around the UK.

BT plans to have 4,000 hotspots across the UK by the summer of 2005.

The other mobile operators need to wake up to WLANs, not least because they will provide a very good complement to forthcoming third generation mobile services, said Mr Pescatore.

The new spectrum on the 5GHz frequency will mean that operators can offer faster and more secure services with less interference from other devices.

Analysts expect wi-fi services to explode, with sales of the wireless cards needed to hook up to the network growing worldwide from 6.5 million in 2001 to 31.2 million by 2006.

See also:

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