Wi-Fi Gathers Momentum in Gulf Region and Dubai

The evolving Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) WLAN technology that allows high-speed
wireless Internet through access points called “hot spots” at public places
is gathering momentum in the Gulf region in general and Dubai in particular.
The GCC is projected to have over 1,000 “hot spots” by the end of 2006,
with a total number of 250,000 users. In the same period, Dubai’s current
figure of 35 hot spots is expected to jump to 140, with a total number
of 35,000 users, driven by demand from businessmen and foreign visitors
travelling to Dubai, according to a recent study conducted by Dubai-based
Madar Research Group.

“Hot Spots provide the type of unhindered fast-speed Internet access to
mobile professionals who need to stay connected with their companies, whether
they are on a transatlantic flight or waiting to board a plane or sharing
a coffee with a business associate,” says Bashar Dahabra, Founder and General
Manager, Info2cell.com, who has been at the forefront of the wireless revolution
involving mobile phones. “The Wi-Fi technology has eliminated the connectivity
problems that plagued users of mobile devices as they moved from one country
to another.”

The Madar study shows that in Dubai most of the hot spots are found in
five-star hotels, while the rest are found in coffee shops and exhibition
centres such as the Dubai World Trade Centre. Emirates Airline too offers
hotspots on its Airbus 345 flights between Dubai and New York, Sydney,
Melbourne, Auckland and Christchurch.

Globally, according to Gartner Dataquest research, there will be an estimated
30 million users accessing 132,486 hot spots around the end of 2004, registering
a triple growth rate over 2003. Of these hot spots, 62 per cent are found
in retail outlets, 17 per cent in hotels, 15.5 per cent in community centres
and the rest in airports, gas stations and ports. London has the highest
number of hot spots (844), followed by New York (741) and Paris (66.3).

“The hot spots represents an important stage in the development of wireless
connectivity with no physical barriers at the local level,” said Dahabra.
“Info2cell.com, as a pioneer in wireless technology, has always believed
that the dependence on plug-in systems needs to go if we are to enjoy seamless
connectivity. We fully support the WLAN technology which, we are sure,
will lead to increased convergence involving all types of communication
devices. Hot spots represent one more facet of the immense possibilities
off.ered by wireless technologies.”

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Wi-Fi is a suite of specifications for high-speed WLAN approved by the
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1999. In technical
circles, it is referred to as 802.11b, a variant of the evolving WLAN technology
based on the 802.11 wireless Ethernet specifications. WLAN is set to become
standard for most, if not all, laptops and other handheld devices in the
very near future.
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