BY 2015, consumers will be able to connect to the Internet using one of an estimated 5.8 million public WiFi hotspots around the globe.
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) expects the number of public hotspots to surge by more than 350% over the next four years, up from the 1.3 million WiFi hotspots available worldwide in 2011, as smartphones and Tablets enter the mainstream and consumers increase their on-the-go data consumption.
The predictions are drawn from a survey of 259 service providers and WiFi vendors which was compiled by analyst firm Informa Telecoms & Media for the WBA.
“The findings show we are about to enter the golden age of public WiFi with hotspot deployments set to soar,” said Chris Bruce, chair of the WBA and CEO of BT Openzone.
Fixed operators are extending broadband services beyond the home and office, and WiFi is supporting busy mobile broadband networks. Next Generation Hotspot trials are making inroads in the remaining barriers and by cracking the code of a simple, secure user experience hotspot use will continue to soar.
Communications companies in China and Japan have already pledged to add more hotspots in the country; China Mobile plans to provide consumers with access to a staggering one million hotspots and Japanese operator KDDI has said it will increase its current 10,000 hotspots to 100,000 in the next six months.
Mobile operators around the globe are also joining the trend in an attempt to offload heavy traffic from their existing mobile broadband networks and to provide their customers with a value-added service.
Operator networks are starting to struggle under the load of data-hungry smartphones and with the global mobile data traffic expected to reach 16.84 million terabytes by 2014, WiFi-based offload will become a primary coping strategy.
In North America and the Asia-Pacific, smartphone connections to WiFi hotspots now outnumber those from laptops, a phenomenon that is expected to be replicated around the globe in the near future according to the WBA.
Looking for free WiFi hotspots when you travel? Public WiFi hotspots are often found in urban hotzones; such as parks, tourist attractions, transport hubs and local libraries. You can also use websites such as www.hotspot-locations.com, www.wefi.com and hotspotr.com/wifi to search for hotspots in the area. — Relaxnews 2011