Public Wi-Fi Hotspots Grow 400% Worldwide

September 1, 2009

The number of public Wi-Fi hotspots around the world is on the rise and has grown from 53,746 in 2004 to 258,853 in June 2009, a 400% increase, according to a report from JiWire, which also noted 9% growth between January and June of this year.

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The inaugural “Mobile Audience Insights Report,” which includes Wi-Fi trends and data about the demographics and behavioral interests of Wi-Fi users, said that the top countries for public Wi-Fi are the US, China and the UK:

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The top-three US cities for public Wi-Fi are New York City, San Francisco and Chicago:

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Apple Dominates Mobile Wi-Fi Device Use

In statistics collected specifically from North America, the report noted that the number of mobile devices accessing Wi-Fi hotspots grew by 79% in the first half of the year.

Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch remain the most popular Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices in North America, collectively representing 97.8% of all mobile-device connections. The Palm Pre debuted as the #5 most popular mobile device in June 2009, the report said.

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Caf?s Double as Offices, Libraries

Though more than half of Wi-Fi users in North America access Wi-Fi service from hotel/resort hotspots (55.3%), the research revealed that 10.5% now use Wi-Fi services in local caf?s and coffee shops as extended home offices or college libraries, and 83% of these users connect locally in their own neighborhood.

Those who use Wi-Fi in caf?s and coffee shops comprise a desirable demographic that may be planning more big-ticket purchases in the near future, JiWire said.? This audience is predominantly affluent, male and between ages? 25-49. Four in 10 are business decision makers with management titles.

In addition, nearly four in 10 (38%) of caf? Wi-Fi users report that they have made an online purchase during their visit and 77% are in the market to make a major purchase in the next 12 months:

  • 48%? intend to buy a new smartphone.
  • 54% plan to travel more than once on at least a week-long vacation.
  • 28% plan to buy a new laptop.
  • 24% plan to buy a car.

JiWire suggested that these findings challenge the assumption that the mobile Wi-Fi set is a task-oriented audience just checking e-mail or doing work. “Instead, they’re fully engaging the internet when on the go – using social networks, researching products, and actively buying goods and services,” said Kevin McKenzie, CEO of JiWire.

Additional report findings:

  • 81% of public Wi-Fit hotspots worldwide are paid, while 19% are free.
  • There has been an 18.4% increase in monthly total public Wi-Fi users from December 2008 – June 2009.
  • Wi-Fi enabled entertainment devices – such as the Sony PSP and the iPod Touch remain popular on public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • 85% of US Wi-Fi cafe customers connect at least once a week, and? 68% stay connected for more than an hour.

About the report: JiWire’s first Mobile Audience Insights Report is based on data from approximately 275,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as a survey of 2,057 customers randomly selected in more than 6,500 caf? locations across the US that used JiWire’s Wi-Fi Media Channel from April to June 2009.

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