The big jump from last years nine million users was estimated by research analyst Gartner, who said that by the end of this year, more than half of all business laptops will be equipped with wireless Lan capabilities – increasing wireless usage by workers connected to office, public and home hotspots.
As far as public hotspots are concerned, where users largely need to connect with pre-pay access cards, Gartner said firms should seek to negotiate group discounts for their staff to help control costs.
Gartner said that if they do not try to do this, their staff will continue to purchase expensive pre-pay cards anyway, which will be claimed back by the employee on expenses.
The cost of connecting to a wireless hotspot in a UK city can be as much as £10 for a few hours, which is far more than the cost of using an internet café with broadband access.
Gartner analyst Ian Keene said firms should avoid entering into long-term access contracts with mobile operators and network service providers, as the hotspot market is changing fast, and firms may end up paying more than they should in the short- to medium-term.
This article was part of Computer Weekly's enterprise mobile business channel, sponsored by Nokia