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According to an American wireless network provider, by the year 2018 our planet will be covered by more than 340 million wi-fi hotspots. This is approximately seven-times more than the 47.7 million we are expected to have by the end of this year. This study, carried out by iPass, says that the 340 million worldwide hotspots will theoretically mean that there will be one hotspot for every 20 people on earth. This compares to one Wi-Fi hotspot for every 150 people today.
June Bower, iPass chief marketing officer, said: “iPass wanted to understand how many hotspots there are in the world and where are they going, what’s the coverage going to be like in 2018. “We learned some very interesting things that are affecting the travel experience today and will do so in the future.
“Over the last few years we’ve seen the emergence of the ‘Wi-Fi first’ generation. Wi-Fi has become cool again; in fact it’s seen by most as an essential utility, just like water or electricity,” said Evan Kaplan, President and CEO of iPass. “Most of the devices we use are Wi-Fi only and even on the most advanced 4G handsets, 78% of data goes over Wi-Fi. Simply put, it’s the network of choice for consumers and soon they’ll be able to roam this alternative network of millions of hotspots.”
The study shows that Europe is the continental leader in Wi-Fi with half of the world’s hotspots. France has the most connections of any country, followed by the US and then the UK – with one public Wi-Fi signal for every 11 people. Europe is set to be overtaken by Asia by 2018 but Africa will continue to languish – the continent is predicted to only offer one signal for every 408 people by the same date.
The research showed that Wi-Fi is changing the power structures of the telecommunications industry, witnessing a power shift from traditional telcos to business owners, such as cafes, hoteliers and retailers who are all getting into the Wi-Fi game. The report noted that 50% of all commercial hotspots are controlled by brands whose core business isn’t telecommunications.
The study is one of the first comprehensive looks at the distribution of global wi-fi. A clickable map of hotspots around the world shows the numbers in each region and where they are located – in homes, on trains, planes, airports and retail outlets.