Quicker Embrace of GSM Would Help Stateside Wi-Fi

Phones based on the Global System for Mobile Communications, already popular in Europe, use the Subscriber Identity Module to resolve billing among many networks.

We seem to need pager alerts these days to keep up with competition in the Wi-Fi hot-spot space.

Yesterday, just a week after Wayport announced a retail partnering program that challenged T-Mobile USAs dominance among retail hot spots, T-Mobile countered with an aggressive move into Wayports bread-and-butter niche, the travel and hospitality sector.

T-Mobile lit up service at the Hyatt Charlotte in North Carolina on Thursday morning and announced that it will unwire Hyatt hotels in Columbus, Ohio; Chesapeake Bay, Md.; and the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City within weeks. The company promises to deploy hot spots in most of Hyatts 200-plus hotels by 2005.

Wayport last week rolled out its Wi-Fi World, an ambitious program packaging a network of partnerships and managed services pegged to its efforts to unwire McDonalds restaurants.

But Wi-Fi World is more than just a deployment plan for McDonalds. Its Wayports ticket into hot-spot deployments in restaurants, truck stops, stores, shopping malls and other retail venues.

/zimages/7/28571.gifClick here to read Carol Ellisons take on Wayports Wi-Fi World program.

Now comes T-Mobile and its new partnership with Hyatt. This is shaping up as a battle of the titans. Given the speed at which both companies are expanding their footprints in the competitive hot-spot space, the two are looking more and more like the last left standing in what has become one of the industrys bloodier competitions.

Last month, Cometa Networks, a joint venture of AT&T, IBM and Intel, joined the league of high-profile providers that have shuttered their operations in the face of rising costs and diminishing revenue projections.

A recent report from the Wissenschaftliches Institut für Kommunikationsdienste (WIK, which translates to the Scientific Institute for Communication Services), a leading research firm that tracks the telecommunications industry in Germany, suggests that fallout in the provider space may be nearing an end.

Next page: The convergence factor.