The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. As with any emerging business proposition it’s always difficult to determine whether it will succeed or fail and Wi-Fi is no different. Even the once thought to be solid business case of the telecom industry took a dramatic fall a couple of years ago. This past experience should only serve to warn observers that comments from industry players should be taken with a grain of salt and the growing Wi-Fi bubble should be viewed with a certain level of skepticism. But it’s not always easy to wade through all the information to get a clear picture of where the Wi-Fi industry is heading. At one end of the spectrum, a couple of the larger Wi-Fi operators proclaim they will deploy hundreds of hotspots by the end of the year. One of them has even predicted that $3.5 million in revenue by the end of 2003 is a “conservative” estimate. These targets are certainly aggresive, if not very optimistic. At the opposite end of the spectrum, an IDC Canada research report indicates that the entire Wi-Fi industry (nine companies and a mix of other location owners such as hotel chains) will have deployed only 450 hotspots by the end of the year. Further, it will only reach $1.3 million in service revenue (see article on page 2). So where does reality lie? Somewhere in the middle? That’s hard to answer at the moment and only time will tell. All of this is not to suggest that Wi-Fi operators aren’t doing some things right. Who is to say they haven’t stumbled onto a huge business opportunity when MacDonald’s decides to begin offering Wi-Fi service. The small independent players will continue to secure locations either through a direct sales force or through partnerships and channel relationships. Working with the ISP community is probably the best move for these fledgling outfits. This is the right direction to take if they are going to get support from not only the financial community, but also venture capitalists looking for the next big thing. One can only hope that Wi-Fi operators have learned from the telecom experience and won’t overbuild a network for which there has to be any concrete evidence of demand.