PUBLIC WI-FI IN ASIA MIGRATING TO VALUE ADDED SERVICE AS HOTSPOT BUILD SLOWS
London, 8th August, 2005 - Recent research by BroadGroup, the London based consultancy firm, suggests that public access WLAN services in Asia are now largely provided by telcos and mobile operators, and in North Asia, increasingly perceived as a value add for subscriber customers. As build-out of hotspots slows, the market positioning of public Wi-Fi is beginning to shift. The report, Wi-Fi Asia, published this week, documents the changes in pricing over the last six months which reveal several significant changes appear to be in play in this market sector. BroadGroup identifies factors including prices continuing to trend down, and a sudden growth in the volume of subscription based monthly price plans. One of the most significant changes is that a convergence is taking place in price levels for different time bands offered. Average prices for one-month subscriptions are now less than USD 10. Australia and New Zealand remain the exception, being the most expensive for public Wi-Fi in the region. The total picture must not exclude individual cases of successful companies, and government backed initiatives such as the development of M Taiwan. However the possibility of building Wi-Fi businesses on the back of local consumerist demand does not seem to have borne fruit. Against a backdrop of the launch of WiMAX, EDGE and 3G in many of the broadband intensive economies in the region, public Wi-Fi appears to be migrating to a value-add service for telcos and mobile service operators. Hotspot build has dropped by around more than 14% in the first half of this year, compared to the previous six months of 2004, while 78% of all hotspots in the region are concentrated in Japan and Korea. Few operators have indicated plans to extend build-out further of any significance, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand. The implications of these changes have yet to be played out given the advent of other new services and technologies.