posted on: 2/26/2012 4:55:16 PM EST
Wi-Fi- Hotspots to take pressure off mobile broadband
wi-fi, hotspots, broadband, mobile, 3g, utility warehouse, starbucks, telecoms

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Big Expansion of Wi-Fi hotspots

Global public Wi-Fi hotspot numbers are set to grow by 350% over the next five years, from 1.3 million in 2011 to 5.8 million by 2015 (excluding 4.5 million community hotspots where users share their own Wi-Fi access point with others).

According to a new report by Informa Telecoms & Media for the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), growth will be concentrated in three types of location: wide-area outdoor hotzones (e.g. parks); local-outdoor hotzones (e.g.tourist attractions);and transport hubs.

The rise in hotspot numbers is being driven by growth in mobile data traffic, which is predicted to reach 16.84 million terabytes by 2014. Operators expect Wi-Fi to offload come of this traffic from mobile broadand networks.

Laptops now make up less than half (48%) of connections to Wi-Fi hotspots, compared to 36% for smartphones and 10% for tablets. Smartphone connections have already overtaken laptop connections in North America and Asia Pacific, and this trend will spread globally.

The WBA has identified a number of obstacles to greater Wi-Fi adoption. These include cumbersome authentication procedures, cost of access, user discovery of available networks and security.

However, it points out that these are addressed by Next Generation hotspots (NGH) currently being trialled internationally, which allows users to seamlessly roam between cellular and Wi-Fi networks using their mobile handset's sim card as authentication, in addition, operators increasingly offer public Wi-Fi as part of broadband and cellular/mobile packages..

Wi-Fi access points

Starbucks is offering free and unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi access to the two million customers who visit its 650 UK stores each week. Previously free Wi-Fi was only available to Starbucks Reward customers. Wi-Fi provided by BT Openzone can be accessed from any Wi-Fi enabled laptop, tablet or samartphone with just one click, without having to enter a username or password.

Utility Warehouse Discount Club offers its own mobile broadband service and provides a similar internet experience to using your laptop or PC at home-except it can be used on the go.It is slightly slower than fixed-line broadband (although you can get up to 7.2 Meg) but it offers flexibility. Indeed the Mobile broadband service can be used wherever there is mobile network that provides 3G coverage, in turn the wireless pocket router device which lets five people connect to it at any given time, effectively turning the person into a walking Wi-Fi hotspot.There is an inclusive monthly data allowance to 1GB to 3GB, which is more than adequate for most people. It is recommended however,that when using the internet service for downloading movies or streaming TV (IPlayer for example) that they use a fixed line service as this type of usage can take up a lot of your data allowance.

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