Smartphones Overtake Laptops for Wi-Fi Hotspot Usage

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Note -- this news article is more than a year old.

Smartphone based Wi Fi hotspot connections now outnumber those from laptops for the first time. This trend is set to accelerate as the industry moves toward the deployment of Next Generation Hotspots (NGH) according to the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).

­The survey, carried out by Informa Telecoms revealed that hotspot connections are now led by smartphones (40%), followed closely by laptops (39%) and then tablets (17%) which have seen rapid growth since their recent emergence.

he survey also highlighted rapid deployment of NGH, which is based on Passpoint certified equipment, with 19% of operator respondents planning to deploy by the end of 2013. NGH simplifies public Wi-Fi access, especially from smartphones, by allowing secure connections without the need for usernames and passwords, and is seen as a vital tool for offloading busy mobile broadband networks.

The telecoms industry is showing an increasingly positive attitude towards public Wi-Fi with 43% of all respondents describing themselves as 'more bullish' over the past year regarding future investment in the technology. The survey also highlights the major potential of Wi-Fi roaming with 75% of operator respondents claiming under 10% of their overall user base connects to hotspots while travelling. NGH is a critical means of increasing international usage by allowing users to automatically connect to hotspots where their operator has a roaming agreement.

The survey also found that future public Wi-Fi hotspot growth will be focused in four types of location: wide-area outdoor hotzones (e.g. parks); transport hubs (e.g. airports); and social venues (e.g. bars and cafes), with local-area outdoor hotzones (e.g. popular tourist attractions) expected to see the bulk of traffic. These deployments will be in parallel with LTE deployments with over 70% of survey respondents planning to continue investing in both technologies.

The report does highlight several barriers to wider adoption and use of public Wi-Fi hotspots including network authentication, availability of a common roaming standard and 3G/Wi-Fi interworking.

Methodology

This survey in the report was carried out during Q3 2012 drawing 386 responses from the industry, over half of which were from operators with a wide geographic spread representing all major continents but focused on developed markets.

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Tags: smartphones  wi-fi 

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