back to article Ericsson CMO says Wi-Fi hotspots' days are numbered

Ericsson's chief marketing officer, Johan Bergendahl, caused a huge commotion last week when he predicted that Wi-Fi hotspots would become as "irrelevant as telephone boxes". Even allowing for Ericsson's self-interest in a world where cellular networks will be the main route for users to reach the internet while on the move, the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    As if...

    Hundreds of laptops, PDAs, and also the iPhone, etc all only have WiFi. HSPA may have support on mobiles, but thats their only real area of support, and ive never seen anyone in a cafe surfing on their HSPA mobile, but only via wifi on laptop. I personally love to use WiFI hotspots, if they went HSPA i bet the telcos would screw you on a monopoly with premium data rates. So keep WiFi and scrap HSPA for anything but mobiles.

  2. dervheid


    with a (severely) vested interest!

    "Bergendahl went as far as to accuse hotel owners of artificially helping the Wi-Fi industry, "They would never admit it, but I think hotels are stopping the mobile radio signals. They see data access as a business opportunity," he said."


    (That said, I HAVE experienced strangely piss-poor mobile reception in some hotels, which goes from no signal up to full strength 3G when you step outside. Could just be the building structure, I suppose...)

  3. Neil Hoskins
    Thumb Down

    3G Coverage

    Well, I don't know where he is but I don't see 3G let alone HSDPA either where I work or where I live in a medium-sized town in the South East of England. If his predictions are to come true, the operators need to get their fingers out.

  4. Mage Silver badge


    Please, Please...

    Mobile INTERNET!


    Only Irish ComReg includes "normal" 3G/HSDPA as "broadband penetration".

    Sub 270Kbps speeds OR plus 170ms pings (upt o 1000+, which is worse than Satellite) on HSDPA is NOT Broadband.

    It's Flat Rate Internet. Mostly it's better than Analogue Dialup, though the latency can make web browsing @ 700kbps seem slower than 128kbps ISDN.

    Also it is like "dialup" in that if signal is lost the session is lost and you may not even get back same IP address.

    But put 10 users on WiFi and it can easily be worse than HSDPA. :-)

  5. Pete

    Keep on counting those days

    And there I am, still seeing phone boxes around, in use, occasionally updated with new services... on streets, in public facilities, transport depots...

    Even with the huge and pervasive rise of the mobile phone, those phone boxes still make enough profit to riddle the place.

  6. Goran Thyni
    Thumb Down

    sell sell!

    Ericsson is dropping like a stone on the Stockholm Stock Exchange,

    this will not help... sell, sell, sell!

    cell phone technology is good for calling and sending text messages anywhere but data is best sent over 802.X-technology. period.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    What does he have to gain?

    Ownership of the last mile is the most important battle CPs are fighting at the moment. None of the technologies (WiFi, GSM, 3G, WiMAX) has a clear advantage either technically or in their business proposition, no matter what any manufacturer says.

    3G is still very expensive with good coverage, whilst WiFi is still relatively cheap (especially to deploy) with poor coverage. However that may change when the BT Home Hub revolution (some of your bandwidth is reserved for passers by) kicks in.

    And nobody really understand the impact WiMAX will have.

    Any comment like this from a manufacturer should be passed through the "what does he have to gain?" filter. In this case my guess is that they can't do WiFi very well and so want to justify that failing.

  8. Shell

    Not there yet

    We're not there yet. Sat here on a National Express train from York to Edinburgh screaming at my "3" 3g dongle that disconnects me from the 3 network every ... three minutes! Very irritating. So I am using the free Wifi service on the train and it's excellant!

    Until the phone network costs come down and reliability goes up, I'm not convinced cellphone networks are the way to go.

  9. Nano nano

    Bad news for Tardises ...

    as "irrelevant as telephone boxes" ???

  10. paul brain
    IT Angle


    Chief Marketing Officer ... That made me giggle.

    What on earth would someone in marketing know about IT, let alone perform basic functions like remembering where they live and what they do for a living....

    I would have hoped that 'news' originating from these types of people would be automatically blocked on the basis of ' oh , you work in marketing.. how nice', unless said marketing person worked for ASUS and had a nice new picture of the eeeeeeee on the beach with the mandatory hottie.

    Just walk into any starbucks on the planet dim-wit.

  11. Keith SLoan

    Local WiFi Hotspots

    Well being in the sticks/country our local Wifi hotspots are the local pub and the coffee shop in the nearby Market town. Both free to access assuming your drinking the supplied coffee, beer.

    So I think the Ericsson CMO does not know what he is talking about or is smoking something

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is more like those stupid Rabbit Phones. Not much use to most people, very limited, and short lived, but a nice idea.

  13. Chris

    Canada? The US?

    Maybe in the rest of the world, but here in the Great White North, we're truly F'ed in the A (to quote Southpark). We have no 3g carries, and one GSM carrier. The data rates are so bad it's cheaper to buy a solid gold dildo to screw yourself with. And that isn't going to change anytime. The Situation isn't much better in the US either. You europeans have it good with your MMsing and your mobile browsing - hell, I can't even go in to a store and buy a laptop data card. My local big box retails has a demo one on display, but has never had stock, and it's like $600, with a $200/month contract for 150MB a month. Yay?!?

    Flame cause, well I'm angry.

  14. Andy Mc

    Ericsson wins either way

    Chaps, Ericsson make wired and mobile infrastructure kit, so it doesn't matter whether you use wifi or 3g - your data will still be going through their boxes...

  15. JeffyPooh
    Thumb Up

    I have to agree with him...

    Allow me to tell my tale once again. My house-in-the-forest is too far from the nearest telephone CO to get DSL. Also, there's no Cable TV in the neighbourhood. WiMax is coming someday, but not yet. Internet by 2-way satellite sucks in so many ways that I don't know where to start. So we had nothing but dial-up for many, many years.

    Then one day I noticed that the local mobile companys (a couple of them) had just started offering an unlimited "$75/month" EV-DO plan. The "$75" is actually $93.03 with the non-extra extras (such as "service", LOL). I checked the fine print about thirty times, and "unlimited" appeared to really mean unlimited.

    With respect to billing issues associated with tethering, since I was planning to purchase one of their USB-only data modems, I couldn't see anyway for them to complain about me using the system for my PC since the device has no other purpose in life.

    So I bought the $300 Sierra Wireless 595U and opted for a non-contract month-to-month plan. I also procured a $150 CradlePoint CTR-350 mobile router where the 595U plugs into the side and creates a WiFi hot spot. All the CTR-350 needs is a wee bit of power supplied by an AC adapter, or you could even rig up some batteries.

    So now our house-in-the-forest has a WiFi hotspot (wide open since the property is so large). Everything works. We actually get download speeds of up to a bit over 2Mbps, and not usually any lower than 1Mbps. Although this isn't the ultimate in bandwidth it is perfectly usable for almost everything.

    Actually it compares well to satellite where 1Mbps costs $100 per month, and 2Mbps would cost $200 per month.

    Someday, when another option appears I will try to find something a bit cheaper, but "$75" per month isn't that bad since some of the other options that may become available in the future will probably cost "$55" per month anyway.

    Although it is designed and intended for mobile, we use it for our house.

    One thing I've yet to try is Yahoo video messaging while driving. It'll be like the early mobile telephone days, "We're video conferencing while driving!"

    For more info about EV-DO in Nova Scotia, just Google: EV-DO NS

    So to get back to the main point, all the 3G providers have to do is drop their rates from the insanely-stupid $85,000 to "$75" (some have) and then to "$55" and they may become the new default. The $75 is pretty close to the price point they need.

    I don't see their market share going anywhere but up. And companys that make suitable mobile routers will probably do quite well too...

  16. TimM
    Thumb Down

    WiFi hotspots do suck

    WiFi hotspots in my experience suck.

    Whilst I have little problem with WiFi in the home or office, it's when out and about in hotels and coffee shops that I usually give up as it's immense hassle trying to sign on to these things.


    1. Frequently expensive anyway, especially those run by mobile operators and particularly if you are not a regular user.

    2. Crap PAYG deals. Please... proper PAYG deals, not "pay £7 and we'll give you 60 minutes which you have to use up once you start or lose it!". That's not PAYG!! PlusNet offer a great PAYG package, but unfortunately have rubbish roaming (i.e. none except BT in the UK and even then it doesn't work!).

    3. Poor signal, keeps dropping connection. Especially in hotels.

    4. Roaming deals are poor or non-existent with the hotspot you're standing in.

    5. Have to sign up to each hotspot as it's yet another one you don't subscribe to or have roaming for.

    6. Sign up, and then the thing refuses to let you surf beyond the home page anyway because of some bug.

    I've often resorted to GPRS instead on my mobile rather than the hassle with WiFi hotspots.

    Oh, and don't even think about VoIP over WiFi hotspots. It's a joke!

    All that said, mobile surfing via GPRS/3G/etc sucks too because of the expense, especially when roaming in the US!!

  17. JeffyPooh

    @ Chris "Canada? The US?"

    Google: EV-DO NS

  18. Andraž Levstik

    The sad bit?

    It's that wifi or other techs are unnecessarily complicated to setup or use or etc...

    This is how I want my wifi to work in the future:

    I turn it on, it detects any nearby wifi's and so on connects to more than one. Keeps a virtual ip(as in vpn) so that sessions don't die. _*AUTOMATICALY*_ connects and configures itself and just works out of the box. That's the thing with a lot of current mobile tech... it's a PITA to setup on any system.

    Why GSM is so popular? It just WORKS there's not a whole lot of other mobile tech that just works...

    802.11a/b/g/n <-- say what??? I don't care what version it is or how it works or why is one better than the other... I just want it to work. That's my main issue with wifi... it NEVER just works... it's a constant battle of trying to get it to work... having it work then again not working etc...

    Until such time as wifi will do what my cell phone can do(that is work completly seamlessly without me having to do anything to make it do so). It'll be a sub-standard technology.

  19. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good article

    Yes, it is pretty much yesterday's news. I think many of the comments are slightly off the mark - dedicated Wifi hotspots are under threat not WiFi itself. Along with many other business travellers I have no incentive to pay to use WiFi in a hotel: it costs me as much for 24 hours use as 3G does for a month. On Monday a guy in the hotel bar was happily running eDonkey over 3G. Many hotels are now offering wireless free to visitors as the marginal costs of providing the service are minimal so they can offer the service as part of the package. So the point is that, as 3G becomes ubiquitous, affordable and "usable" (ie. provide a data rate that compares reasonably to DSL), the business model for dedicated WiFi (ie. WiFi and WiFi only) becomes increasingly less tenable. Niche markets such as WiFi on trains or planes will be around for a while but most likely as part of the networks offering to their more "distinguishing" customers. WiFi has, however, been an important part in setting expectations and prices for mobile data. In 2000 operators were betting on a virtual monopoly on mobile data and offering the kind of services that the Jesusphone provides which apparently send users into ecstasy and monthly ARPU €100 and upwards across the *whole* population. Thank fuck that those days are gone and operators are getting used to the idea of €10 - €20 per month for data and offering services that will encourage use.

  20. peter
    Thumb Up

    Mobile Broadband

    £20/month free pc card, 7.2MBit.. but this is from Sweden

    from UK

  21. Bruno Girin

    Your mileage may vary

    As usual, different people in different areas have different experience but I think he's got something.

    I use WiFi at home but not when roaming because the hotspots around where I live are supplied by a variety of different suppliers, all of them different from the one that has a deal with my ISP. So if I want to use them, I need to use PAYG and they're not cheap. Add to this that most of the hotels I ever stay in don't offer WiFi, let alone at a decent price.

    On the other hand, I generally have decent 3G reception wherever I go in the UK and it costs me £10 a month flat to have a decent internet connection wherever I go, through my mobile provider, even on the train. Granted, sometimes it is slow and unreliable but it is ideal for occasional light usage. Heavy usage gets done at home or in the office.

    The main problem with WiFi is the fragmentation of the market between hotspots, the wide variation in charges and the fact that hotspots are still few and far between. 3G is much more ubiquitous (at least in the UK) and allows you to roam using a single package from a single supplier, most of the time at a fixed price.

  22. John

    re: hippocracy

    doesn't hippocracy mean rule of the horses in the same way as democracy means rule of the people?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What will make the difference is something really new.

    The technology is there. It just hasn't been assembled yet.

    Imagine a home wifi system that combines networking over power cables with cellular principles. It might use IPv6, and every light switch in the house provides a wifi cell.

    Use the right sort of smart hardware, and the builder doesn't need to install special cables, and an ordinary electrician just installs a slightly different light switch.

    It might as well run your wireless phone, instead of DECT, and distribute video and audio.

    And if you have these nanocells in the house, why not the same protocol (with different security options set) in every streetlight? And maybe that security camera (with low-light capability) is telling the local lights to turn off when nobody is around. And your household wireless phone can make calls, as well as telling the streetlights to switch on.

    And the next thing you know, you have people wearing smartspecs that give them satnav without satellites, and instead of looking on the council website they can look at a dustbin and see a virtual label telling them when the collection is due. The pub asks your specs what your favourite beer is, and if it isn't in stock the CAMRA neural network (very fuzzy logic) suggests a substitute, which pops up on the advertising hoarding you see.

    Frightening, isn't it. But maybe 3G has missed the chance.

  24. Robert Steadman

    My problem with mobile internet.. you have pay every month in case you need to use it. I rarely do, so I keep my money, and head for the nearst cafe/bar with a wifi hotspot on the occasions I can't wait until I get to work or back home.

    Winners: cafes & bars that provide WiFi as well as nice bevvies.

    Loosers: Mobile operators who expect a monthly tithe on the off chance I might use the service.

  25. Jonny

    you don't have to pay monthly and it's popular

    In the UK you don't have to pay every month for mobile internet.

    T-mobile PAYG internet cost £1 a day only on the days you use it for 384Kbps service.

    On reccent intercity train journeys in the south of England I have noticed that about three quarters of the people with laptops have a 3G internet USB dongle hanging from their computers.

  26. JeffyPooh

    While we're on the subject of 3G...

    Cheap mobile broadband leads to:

    1) Virtually free telephone calls including international by means of VOIP+3G

    2) Mobile and portable Internet radio (more or less changes everything to do with broadcast radio)

    3) Almost anything else you can imagine.

    The next 10 years will be very interesting. Those that just paid billions for spectrum are not stupid.

  27. W

    mobile broadband

    £40pm to Virgin got me a 'Good Enough' 2Gig broadband landline, a SIM (no phone though) with 5hrs of X-network mobile calls & 10 texts a day, and an obligatory but useless landline. The only 'added value' is the set of non-freeview channels of dubious quality.

    I've since dropped Virgin's mobile element and I'm with 3 cos they give me a decent free phone/camera/mp3 player, the same sufficient no. of mins and texts and unlimited mobile data for £23pm. Their mobile broadband is becoming an ever more enticing proposition. It's £15pm for 3GB of data. I'd like to hook my phone up as a modem for unlimited laptop data and the way things are going, before very long, mobile broadband is going to be a properly competetive proposition compared to wifi, even at home.

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