You have to measure the remarks of the Ericsson CEO about the future of Wi-Fi hotspot computing against the stake he has in the outcome of the race to serve the computing public on the go; but he does seem to be hitting the nail on the head when he predicts that Wi-Fi hotspots are "The telephone boxes of the broadband era."
... there's a lot of truth in what Ericsson CEO Johan Bergendahl has to
say: Wi-Fi has really never been much more than a stopgap technology,
especially as far as cell phones are concerned. The range is tiny, the
reliability and susceptibility to interference are poor, and the amount
of equipment required to blanket a metropolitan area without leaving
substantial gaps is cost-prohibitive. Using Wi-Fi is fine for your
house, but it makes little sense when traveling, as any hotel dweller
who's had to jaunt down to the lobby in the middle of the night in
order to use the Wi-Fi connection (because the signal won't reach to
his hotel room) can tell you. Now when I go on a trip, I've taken to
using a 3G USB card to get online with my laptop instead of shell out
the $12 a night for Wi-Fi, even if Wi-Fi is available in the room.
I'm inclined to agree with him. I've read numerous stories about many municipal governments trying to install a free Wi-Fi network for their citizens, with almost uniformly disappointing results. Unless you really like Starbucks coffee, you'd better pray for affordable 3G wireless service.