October 21, 2003 9:57 AM PDT

Study: Hottest hot spots in Asia-Pacific

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More than half of Wi-Fi hot spot locations in the world at the end of 2003 will be in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a report Monday from Pyramid Research.

The research firm said the number of hot spots, locations where the wireless standard is publicly available, will exceed 45,000 by the end of year, compared with less than 20,000 hot spots at the end of 2002.

A hot spot, in wireless networking, is a specific part of an access point's range in which the general public can walk up and use the network. The service may be available only for a fee, and the hot spot's range is usually short to control the physical proximity of the user.

In total hot-spot placements this year, more than 24,000 will be launched in Asia-Pacific; Europe and North America will account for over 10,000 hot spots each; and Latin America will log only 550.

But the bulk of the Asian hot-spot fever comes from Korea Telecom, said John Yunker, an analyst at the Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm, noting that without KT, the three major regions are all roughly moving at the same pace. KT alone has more hot spots than the United States does, Yunker added.

"The pace of hot-spot deployment has quickened over the past three months. We are now on track to see more than 100,000 hot spots deployed by early 2005," he said in a statement.

Wi-Fi, short for wireless fidelity, refers to wireless local area networks, or LANs, that use one of several 802.11 standards. Wireless LANs are showing up everywhere--in homes, offices and public places such as Starbucks outlets and airport lounges.

Network operators are expected to install more than 55,000 new hot spots in the United States over the next five years, adding to the 4,200 locations already in place by the end of 2002, according to an earlier study by IDC.

Pyramid said its prediction is based on discussions with operators, venues and aggregators in 65 countries.


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