Half of hotspot minutes go unused

23 May 2007

About half of the minutes bought to access wireless hotspots go unused, according to a new European survey.

European wireless hotspot access Trustive found that customers are not getting value for money as they are wasting minutes unnecessarily. It put this waste down to the allocation of access based on prepaid vouchers.

Bram Jan Streefland, managing director and co-founder of Trustive, said: “The survey shows that many end users are paying excessively on a per-minute basis. Around 60pc are opting for ad hoc methods of purchasing wireless services such as scratch cards or vouchers, which are often sold in hour-long blocks. With just over half of end users averaging a session times of 30 minutes or less, it means that about half of the time purchased is wasted and users are unnecessarily losing unused minutes.”

Streefland said it was no wonder that 70pc of respondents believed pricing was expensive.

Some 45pc of operator revenues come from voucher and credit card payments compared to 32pc from subscriptions, said Trustive. Subscription payments have risen from 28pc in 2006.

Streefland said: “We anticipate that subscription levels will continue to grow over the next 12-18 months. For end users the three most important things when purchasing subscription schemes are coverage, price and easy connectivity. Certainly the first and third are improving dramatically as the number of hotspots, aggregators and roaming agreements grow and client software becomes available.

He added: “It is interesting to note that for prepaid services, end users are saying that price, validity period and minimum spend are more important than quality of service.”

The survey found that the three most popular places to use Wi-Fi hotspots are bars/cafes (31pc), hotels (27pc) and airports (22pc). Some 45pc of respondents said they select their hotel based on whether Wi-Fi is available.

It also found that average connection speeds are increasing, with 61pc of hotspots now having a connection speed of 2Mbps or greater, up from 39pc a year ago. While ADSL is currently the most popular form of backhaul at 57pc, WiMax comes in third place with 9pc after cable at 17pc.

The survey incorporated responses from over 100 European hotspot operators and over 500 hotspot users.

By Niall Byrne