Hundreds of equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are now flooding the market with millions of Wi-Fi cards and access points ("APs" -- wireless hubs). The single Wi-Fi standard ensures these devices all interoperate with each other, so, for example, an access point made by KPN will communicate with a network card from Vodafone.

Wi-Fi components are now on a consumer adoption price curve. Rapid commoditization of Wi-Fi components has triggered steep declines in the price of Wi-Fi equipment. APs were recently over €1000,-, but are €100 today, and Wi-Fi cards that were recently €700 now regularly sell for under €75,-.

As prices have dropped, demand for Wi-Fi equipment has soared, resulting in millions of private Wi-Fi networks being deployed in offices and homes. Wi-Fi networks have also begun appearing in public spaces.

Wi-Fi is fast, up to 11 million bits per second (11Mb), or over 100 times faster than a modem connection. Wi-Fi is significantly faster than the "2.5G" wireless services provided by cellular carriers, which typically deliver throughput between 40k and 60k. The actual speed experienced by hot spot users is determined by the hot spot's connection to the Internet, which can range from low-end DSL (384k) to one or more T1s (1.5Mb and up), but this still promises much faster speed than any other available technology.

When you factor in the low cost to set up and run Wi-Fi hot spots, the rapid spread of inexpensive Wi-Fi cards and devices and Wi-Fi's use of totally free spectrum, it becomes clear that Wi-Fi delivers a price per bit that no other wireless technology can touch.

With its low barrier to entry and mass appeal, hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi hot spots will saturate heavily trafficked areas in the next few years.

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