AT&T, which now claims to operate the largest Wi-Fi network in the U.S, announced late last week that traffic through Wi-Fi network tripled last year, with about 1.2 billion Wi-Fi connections being made during the year. Almost 487 million of those connections came in the fourth quarter alone, a major jump over the roughly 302 million Wi-Fi connections through AT&T in the final quarter of 2010.
The mobile carrier said Wi-Fi uploads from mobile devices on its network were up 550 percent on a monthly basis throughout last year, with 3 million connections occurring every day. The AT&T Wi-Fi Network consists of 30,000 hotspots, a figure that grew about 60 percent between 2008 and 2011, but AT&T also provides access to 190,000 Wi-Fi hotspots overall throughout the world.
AT&T updated these numbers a day after talking up its 2011 and fourth quarter earnings, which included record sales of iPhone and Android smartphones. The separate Wi-Fi announcement may speak volumes, as AT&T and other mobile carriers may still be conflicted about how often their customers are using Wi-Fi. This isn't to say AT&T isn't proud of its Wi-Fi success-the carrier deserves a lot of credit for recognizing fairly early the increasingly important role Wi-Fi would play.
- see this TechCrunch post
AT&T is making a big Wi-Fi play at the Super Bowl
AT&T first made Wi-Fi waves with its Wayport partnership