Remote access provider Sirocom has been forced to provide WiFi access for nothing as no customers will pay for it.
"Our customers are frightened to death of WiFi costs," said Barrie Desmond, director of business development for Sirocom. "One customer saw its remote access cost increase by 25 percent in July and August, because a small number of users started to use WiFi. Another company, with 20,000 mobile users, has recalled all its laptops, and disabled WiFi because of this sort of cost exposure."
Only around three percent of corporate customers are using WiFi, says Desmond, so Sirocom is offering a new set of price plans, which offer "all you can eat" access across multiple technologies. "To get a similar service from the Cloud, T-Mobile and BT Openzone, would cost around $130 month. From us it will cost $45 - and if you can't find a free hotspot we'll give you free 0800 dial-up."
"Existing customers can have their bills frozen on the last six months' usage," he says, "and for the next six months have free WiFi access to use with impunity. Now's the time to fill your boots with WiFi." Customers already paying for WiFi access can have free access over their home and hotel broadband or dial-up connections, he added: "This will protect them from spiralling costs, give them a taste of the efficiency gains they will get from WiFi - and reduce their 3G costs."
To try and overcome corporate fear of WiFi, services like Sirocom have been adding quarantine and anti-virus to ensure systems are adequately protected before they connect. "People are more secure on WiFi than on fixed networks," said Desmond. "Now we're addressing the cost perspective."
The Sirocom bundles include a pool of hours per month, to be used by any user within the customer company.
After six months, WiFi will no longer be free, said Desmond: "But monthly fees won't go up by more than 20 percent. It's not like getting people hooked on heroin."