Global Wi-Fi hotspots forecast to increase 350% by 2015

Growing tablet and smartphone usage will drive the deployment of Wi-Fi hotspots from 1.3 million today to 5.8 million by 2015, a 350 per cent increase, according to a new study from the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA). The WBA report said that nearly 50 per cent of mobile operators believe Wi-Fi hotspots are either very important or crucial to their customers' experience by helping to provide data offload on overloaded networks. The survey, which excluded shared community hotspots, found that smartphone connections to Wi-Fi hotspots will soon surpass laptops globally. Laptops now account for nearly half of the connections to hotspots, while smartphones account for 36 per cent and tablets 10 per cent. However, while those involved with the survey reject the idea that LTE will impact the growth of Wi-Fi hotspots, challenges still remain. The major barriers, according to the WBA, are the awkward authentication procedures, costs of access, user discovery of available networks and security. Of note, one UK operator recently reported that only 20 per cent of its subscribers make a connection with the free public hotspots available to them. Release