Business travelers view wireless computing technology as a business necessity only a year after hotspots places where people can tap into a wireless Internet connection with their notebook PCs — became available in cafes, hotels and airports. Today, there are approximately 20,000 hotspots worldwide,

a number expected to grow six-fold by 2005.

According to an international survey of business travellers released today by Intel Corp., 71 per cent of road warriors are convinced that Wi-Fi short for wireless fidelity will enable business travellers to seize a communications advantage over their competition. While only one in ten road warriors has tried Wi-Fi, nearly 90 per cent see wireless computing in their future.

The survey also revealed that being without Internet access while travelling puts businesspeople in an awkward position with bosses, co-workers and customers who have become accustomed to expect prompt email responses. When working in the office, 31 per cent of road warriors reply to email within one hour. When road warriors are travelling, only seven per cent respond within that same time frame. Thirty per cent of road warriors do not respond to email for 48 hours or more while on a business trip. One third of survey respondents said they have suffered significant consequences such as missed meetings, lost revenue, irate customers, disappointed family members and even job termination as a result of not having timely access to the Internet while on the road.

While business travellers predictably identified airports (77 per cent), hotels (76 per cent) and airplanes (60 per cent) as the places where they most need hotspots, they also expressed a desire to have wireless Internet access in automobiles, trains and hospitals.

Wireless Computing on the Rise

With built-in Wi-Fi viewed as the next logical step in mobile computing, 70 per cent of road warriors said they intend to buy a Wi-Fi-enabled notebook when they make their next notebook PC purchase.

Analysts foresee dramatic growth in sales of wireless-enabled notebook PCs. Market research firm IDC predicts that wireless-enabled notebooks will represent 42 per cent of all mobile PC sales in 2003 and 95 per cent in 2006.

“”Road warriors were the first consumers to make cell phones part of their daily business lives more than 20 years ago, and Wi-Fi is following a similar life cycle,”” said Sean Maloney, executive vice president, Intel, and general manager of the Intel Communications Group. “”Right now, we see business travellers and technology buffs using Wi-Fi, but the technology will spread to general consumers as they become aware of the benefits of true mobile computing.””

Other survey findings include:

The US leads in the most intense business travel. Thirty-one percent of

American road warriors make at least 20 overnight trips a year, followed by:

Canadians: 20%

Asians: 17%

Europeans: 15%

Japanese: 12%

Latin Americans: 10%

Fifty-eight percent of road warriors say they enjoy business travel; however, Americans at 45 per cent are more likely to say they wish they had less business travel, followed by:

Asians: 32%

Canadians: 30%

Latin Americans: 28%

Europeans: 25%

Japanese: 25%

The vast majority of road warriors take their laptops on business trip.

Asians: 81%

Americans: 81%

Japanese: 79%

Europeans: 78%

Latin Americans: 76%

Canadians: 64%

Forty per cent of business travellers take their laptops with them on vacation to do a little business email or get trip information

The use of Wi-Fi is highest among Asians at 17 per cent, followed by:

Japanese: 13%

Americans at 13%

Europeans: 12%

Canadians: 9%

Latin Americans: 3%

Interest in the future use of Wi-Fi is strong, especially among the Japanese and Asians. In those regions, 32 per cent of road warriors expect to try

Wi-Fi in the next three months, followed by

Europeans: 20%

Latin Americans: 19%

Americans: 17%

Canadians: 17%

While interest in trying Wi-Fi is equally high for both genders (66 per cent), Wi-Fi trial to date is higher among men (14 per cent) than women (seven per cent).

Seventy-one percent of all business travellers expect Wi-Fi to offer a communications advantage over competitors.

Japanese: 81%

Asians: 77%

Americans: 77%

Canadians: 66%

Latin Americans: 62%

Europeans: 60%

Road warriors’ email communication while travelling is mostly

work-related

79% is with colleagues or staff

64% is with bosses or superiors

60% is with clients or customers

40% is with spouses

36% is with friends

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