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Monday, August 30, 2004

Amsterdam start-up to offer WiFi internet citywide

From a Reuters correspondent: "Amsterdam's Web surfers could soon be liberated from their home computers and Internet cafes, with plans by a start-up firm to make their city the first European capital where laptops can hook up anywhere to the Web. HotSpot Amsterdam launched a wireless computer network on Monday with a supercharged version of the WiFi technology that is used to turn homes, airports, hotels and cafes into Web-connected "hot spots"... If everyone can walk with his laptop and access any website in any city in the future, that's good for the online and the mobile industries but I'm not sure it will be excellent for the guy who sells newspapers in a booth...

According to Reuters, "The entire city center of Amsterdam will be covered by 40 to 60 antennas within three months, HotSpot Amsterdam founder Carl Harper said. "We'll go on to cover all of Amsterdam with 125 base stations. The idea is to prove to the big boys that it can be done, and that consumers can live with a mobile phone and mobile Internet. The landline is dead," he said. Many computer makers build WiFi chips and access cards into their products as a standard feature.

Mobile phone makers like Nokia have also started to add WiFi to some of their handset models, allowing much faster Internet access than would be possible with the standard GPRS and UMTS connections offered by mobile phone operators.

HotSpot Amsterdam charges 4.95 euros ($5.98) a day or 14.95 euros a month for a connection of 256 kilobits per second, equivalent in price and speed to a low-end home broadband connection, while 24.95 euros a month will buy a connection twice that fast.

... The company's founders said their service was cheap enough that residents could choose a WiFi subscription in place of a fixed-line broadband connection from a cable TV company or from a provider of digital subscriber line services, which run through normal copper phone lines."

The important message to keep in mind is that this new WiFi offer is aimed at very specific audiences: "The users we're aiming at are expatriates, students and people who share accommodation. They need Internet access, but are not able to install fixed-line broadband, or they do not want it for the minimum period of a year," Harper said.

Source: Reuters through Yahoo news

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on August 30, 2004 at 07:00 PM | Permalink


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