Wi-Fi hotspots will become as ill-used as the telephone box. That’s the claim levied by mobile broadband advocate Ericsson yesterday.

Chief marketing officer Johan Bergendahl was speaking at the European Computer Audit, Control and Security Conference in Stockholm, where he claimed hotspots will no longer be needed. "Hot spots at places like Starbucks are becoming the telephone boxes of the broadband era," said Bergendahl.

Mobile broadband growing fast

He added that mobile broadband is growing faster than either mobile or fixed line telephony ever has. And that’s being helped by some pretty aggressive pricing here in the UK - £10 a month for 3 on-the-go broadband is pretty impressive. Mind you, he clearly hasn’t thought too much about the restrictions of HSDPA broadband.

Data allowances still mean that replacing your fixed line connection is some way off, while roaming charges and coverage are two more challenges. Indeed, Bergendahl urged providers to work together better.

However, this isn’t to harpoon Bergendahl’s comments: "In a few years, [mobile broadband] will be as common as Wi-Fi is today," he said in his keynote at the conference. Laptop manufacturers certainly wouldn’t agree – they’re falling over themselves to provide the capability in their notebooks despite Intel chucking integrated HSDPA out of the Centrino spec.

Instead, Intel is putting all its eggs into one WiMAX. It already has a lot to do to catch up with telcos eager to make good on their 3G investment.