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HOTSPOTS: Swisscom Mobile to launch Public Wireless LAN on 2 December 2002
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 25.09.02 - 12:16:00 CET under 02 - Windows Mobile News - Viewed 7131x
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As already announced, Swisscom Mobile (the wireless share of Swisscom, the former Swiss PTT) has been working all-out to build its own public wireless LAN network at heavy-traffic locations (hotspots) throughout Switzerland. From 2 December 2002 users of laptops or pocket PCs will be able to enjoy fast, wireless access to the Net from any hotspot. Public wireless LAN will be demonstrated live for the first time at the Orbit/Comdex Europe 2002 trade fair in Basel, where the public will be able to try it out free of charge.

Swisscom Mobile will be demonstrating its new public wireless LAN product for the first time at Orbit/Comdex Europe 2002. All the exhibition halls have been configured as a large hotspot where visitors with a laptop or pocket PC with WLAN card will be able to try out fast, mobile access to the Internet for themselves. Swisscom Mobile will be distributing several thousand free value cards which can be used during Orbit to access the public wireless LAN. This represents the lead-up to the launch of the commercial service on 2 December 2002, when access to some 100 public wireless LAN hotspots will be available to anyone with the right technical equipment and a Swisscom Mobile cellular phone or a public wireless LAN value card.

Dialing in is simple, secure and fast. Swisscom Mobile customers merely enter their NATEL (cellular phone) number and receive an SMS with a password for accessing the Internet or their company network via public wireless LAN. In this case the cost is charged directly to their NATEL bill – so all mobile services are clearly itemized on a single invoice. Customers with other providers or visitors from abroad can buy value cards at the hotspot, from Swisscom shops, kiosks or other points of sale. Public wireless LAN enables wireless on-line access with up to 2Mbit/s bandwidth based on the global industrial standard 802.11b. So employees of companies who already operate a wireless LAN need no additional hardware. As a simple, flexible and secure transmission technology, WLAN will rapidly become a must-have in many companies and homes. According to a study by the Gartner Group, approximately 50% of company laptops around the world will be equipped for WLAN by 2006. Swisscom Mobile anticipates that over 50% of Swiss companies will provide a mobile office as part of their standard infrastructure within only three years. Public wireless LAN is set to play an important role as the enabling transmission technology.

Sounds pretty promising but I wonder how expensive it will be. However to charge Swisscom Mobile customers (or how it is called in Switzerland: Natel customers ;-) on their monthly GSM invoice is pretty clever and I wonder how long it takes that other operators will offer this kind of service too (BTW: I've also developed long time ago a concept for operators to introduce W-LAN into their existing GPRS environment - incl. billing and if you are an operator you can hire me ;-).
If anyone of you - my Swiss visitors - could give us an update later this year, how it works for you and how expensive it is, this would be great!

Thanks to Jo Zihlmann for the information.

Cheers ~ Arne

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