Last year, the number of WiFi hotspots around the world increased to 4.2 million. ABI Research says this trend is expected to continue for the next few years, with a compound annual growth rate of 15% resulting in 7.1 million hotspots in 2015 and over 10.5 million in 2018.
These figures include WiFi hotspots deployed by mobile and fixed-line carriers as well as those from third-party operators. 68.6% are in the Asia-Pacific region, with 12.3% in Latin America, 9.0% in Europe, 8.7% in North America and 1.4% across the Middle East and Africa.
According to the ABI Research report, traditional fixed-line and mobile operators are using WiFi to relieve the load on their networks. Of the 620,000 WiFi hotspots in China, 420,000 have been set up by China Mobile, 128,000 by China Telecom and 72,000 by China Unicom. In Latin America, Brazilian carrier Oi has reached 500,000 WiFi hotspots in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Marina Lu, Research Analyst at ABI Research, said “The mobile data growth has boosted the build-out of Wi-Fi hotspots, as it is expected that the global mobile data traffic will grow to 190,000 petabytes in 2018, from 23,000 petabytes in 2013. Wi-Fi helps to offload 3G/4G mobile Internet users to Wi-Fi networks, which is a more cost-effective method for both mobile carriers and mobile users.”