No big price cuts in near future, says BT wireless broadband chief

The head of BT’s wireless division has said significant price cuts for Wi-Fi users over the next year are unlikely.

The head of BT’s wireless division has said significant price cuts for Wi-Fi users over the next year are unlikely.

Wi-Fi wireless network technology has been growing in popularity among businesses, which see it as a cost-effective alternative to 3G and GPRS services from the main mobile operators. BT said take-up of its Wi-Fi service, Openzone, increased by 400% last year and was growing by 20% a month.

But the firm does not expect prices to fall in the short term.

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Chris Clark, chief executive of wireless broadband at BT, said, "I don’t think you will necessarily see massive movement of the raw price [of Wi-Fi networks]. What you will see and what you are beginning to see is Wi-Fi tariffs being bundled.

"There has been a lot of work in making sure it was priced appropriately."

Clark predicted more business users would use Wi-Fi to make telephone calls instead of traditional mobile phone networks. There are 7,500 Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK and 20,000 across twelve countries.

Mark Blowers, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said BT’s strategy of bundling Wi-Fi with other services could reduce the freedom of IT directors to choose different operators for mobile, fixed-line and Wi-Fi services.

"This will be a challenge for IT directors. There will be no easy way to calculate billing," he said. This would make it difficult for users to compare prices and determine whether the contract with the operators was cost-effective," Blower added.

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