Expect More Hotspots

By Eric Griffith

April 26, 2007

ABI says by the end of this year we'll have 179,500 of them worldwide.

The latest forecast from ABI Research indicates that by the end of 2007, there will be 25% more hotspots in the world. The total will grow to 179,500.

More than 75% of those hotspots are found in North America and Europe, but the Asia/Pacific region is growing quickly -- although China's hotspot growth is slower than was first anticipated. By 2012, Asia/Pacific should be close in number to North America. Europe still leads, however, with 70,000 hotspots.

Retail establishments like McDonald's are cited as a "major driver" of the growth. Hospitality accounts for 46,000 locations, and ABI says the savings promised by Voice over Wi-Fi (VoFi) is going to drive even more hotspots into hotels and motels. The research firm says providers like Boingo and Wayport are already working with Wi-Fi handset makers to ensure their phones will work at such locations. The hotel staff will also take advantage of the VoFi internally to save money.

ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt is quoted in the release as saying, "Not only are hotspot and subscriber numbers growing, but we have observed a dramatic increase in the number of Wi-Fi sessions per subscriber. This means that subscribers are connecting more often to check their e-mail and surf the Internet.”

The data is part of a Wi-Fi Hotspot Market Data forecast that includes historical data.

Speaking of more hotspots, FON -- in the news this week thanks to reports that it's teaming with Time Warner to expand its own network of hotspots -- now has software for Mac and Linux. The computers in question need a separate form of Internet connection (like Ethernet), though, as the wireless is only for sharing.

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