Hotspots ‘up 47% Worldwide’

Surging demand for wireless internet will translate into a 47-ercent jump in global Wi-Fi hotspots in 2006, a market research firm said.

An ABI Research forecast concluded that in 2006 the number of commercial Wi-Fi hotspots would increase to 143,700.

The report said 74 percent are in North America and Europe, but the Asia-Pacific region was growing very rapidly.

“By 2011 the Asia-Pacific region will surpass both Europe and North America in the number of Wi-Fi hotspots,” said vice president and research director Stan Schatt.

For the moment, Europe is still the market leader with over 57,000 hotspots, ABI said.

A major driver of Wi-Fi hot spots is retail establishments such as fast-food chain McDonalds, which has hotspots at 4,000 locations worldwide.

ABI said its research shows more hotspots and more people using them for longer periods.

“There also has been a dramatic increase in the number of Wi-Fi sessions per subscriber,” the report said. “This means that subscribers are lingering longer and spending more time doing their email and surfing the internet.”

Another major force is the hotel industry, which has been increasing its wireless internet offerings. Schatt said that by 2010 the hospitality industry will offer more than 109,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.

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