Are Wi-Fi hot spots becoming the public telephone booths of the broadband era? Ericsson’s Chief Marketing Officer Johan Bergendahl indeed thinks they are, calling them “irrelevant” and soon to be replaced by high-speed wireless broadband.

Speaking at the European Computer Audit, Bergendahl argued that the future lies in 3G networks, as mobile broadband is supposedly growing faster than mobile or fixed phone lines ever did and will be able to cover a much larger area around the globe. Of course, these comments should be taken with a pinch of salt. After all, the company designs and manufactures a lot of the equipment being used by mobile operators to deploy their networks, including Ericsson's own flavor of wireless broadband called HSPA.

That said, Bergendahl is probably right about Wi-Fi hot spots being largely displaced by mobile broadband for roaming connectivity in the future, and factors such as coverage, availability and roaming will be key to its success.