Number of Wi-Fi hotspots to quadruple by 2015, says study

Users will be able to access 5.8 million Wi-Fi hotspots in four years

The number of public Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to increase by 350 percent in the next four years, as operators look for ways to offload traffic from their mobile networks, according to a report by market research company Informa Telecoms and Media.

By 2015 users around the world will be able to connect to 5.8 million public hotspots, Informa wrote in the "Global developments in public Wi-Fi" report, which was commissioned by Wireless Broadband Alliance. WBA members include AT&T, Boingo, Cisco Systems, Deutsche Telekom and Google. Its goal is to make Wi-Fi services easier to use.

Mobile data growth is a key reason for the rapid build-out of Wi-Fi hotspots, according to Informa. On Monday, telecom equipment vendor Ericsson published a report which contends that mobile data traffic will grow tenfold in 2G, 3G and 4G networks between 2011 and 2016.

To handle the growth, operators will have to use a number of different technologies, including Wi-Fi, LTE (Long Term Evolution) and traffic shaping, according to Thomas Wehmeier, principal analyst at Informa.

Users don't care about acronyms like 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi, as long as their network connection works well, according to the WBA.

However, to increase usage, hotspots also have to become easier to use. Operators and vendors are working on integrating mobile networks and Wi-Fi hotspots more closely, including using SIM cards to simplify the log-in procedure and roaming between different networks.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is next year planning to launch a certification program that will offer standardized mechanisms for discovery, authentication and provisioning. The program will be based on its Hotspot 2.0 specification, which also used by the Wireless Broadband Alliance as it trials next-generation hotspots. In June, the two organizations said they will cooperate on developing hotspots.

But the buildout of Wi-Fi hotspots isn't just about offloading data. Telefonica is using Wi-Fi to build a location-based services and earlier this year hotspot provider The Cloud was acquired by British Sky Broadcasting Group, which is mostly known for its satellite TV services.

The report also highlights the proliferation of smartphones, which will soon overtake laptops as the most popular way to connect to hotspots. Globally, smartphones account for 36 percent of all connections, compared to 48 percent for laptops and 10 percent for tablets. However, in North America smartphones already outnumber laptop connections, according to Informa.

Informa defines public hotspots as a place that offers Internet access to all members of the public, either for a fee or for free. The report excludes 4.5 million community hotspots, where consumers today share their broadband connection with others using equipment from Fon.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags telecommunicationCarriersNetworkingWireless Broadband AlliancewirelessWLANs / Wi-Finetwork infrastructurebroadband

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?