Smartphones have now overtaken laptops as the most-used device for connecting to WiFi hotspots. That’s the conclusion of a new survey compiled by research company Informa Telecoms & Media and published by the Wireless Broadband Alliance. It says the trend is set to accelerate as new Next Generation Hotspots are deployed because this equipment allows a secure connection without needing usernames or passwords.
40% of WiFi hotspot connections are now from smartphones, followed by laptops at 39% and tablets with 17%.
The survey involved 386 WiFi operators, half of which had a wide geographic spread representing all major continents. It found that future public WiFi hotspot growth would be focused in four types of location. Local-area outdoor zones, such as tourist attractions, were expected to see the bulk of traffic; growth was also expected in wide-area outdoor hotzones (e.g. parks), transport hubs (e.g. airports) and social venues (e.g. bars and cafes).
JR Wilson, Chairman of the WBA, said “These findings show that public Wi-Fi is now a crucial part of the mobile experience and this is set to grow enormously with the impending NGH deployments. Large operators are already seeing a significant increase in Wi-Fi usage. China Mobile, for example, saw a 102.5% year-on-year increase in Wi-Fi traffic in H1 2012 and Japan’s NTT DoCoMo plans to grow its 14,200 hotspots by as much as 1.5 times before the end of the year. In order to sustain this momentum, it is essential that operators continue to work together and employ open standards thereby creating a truly global Wi-Fi network. This is the key aim of the WBA and one that will progress significantly over the next 12 months as advanced NGH trials and deployments take place.”