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340 million Public WiFi Hotspots by 2018, 'Wi-Fi First' trend emerging
November 3, 2014, 12:15 pm

iPass, the world's largest commercial Wi-Fi network, via a joint study - Wi-Fi growth map - with analysts Maravedis Rethink unveiled a report on the worldwide deployments of public Wi-Fi hotspots. The report expects that there will be 47.7 million public Wi-Fi hotspots deployed globally by the end of 2014, growing to over 340 million in next four years. This brings nearly one Wi-Fi hotspot for every twenty people on earth by 2018, a vast increase from today's one Wi-Fi hotspot for every 150 people.

The report also highlights France as the “country of Wi-Fi” in 2014 boasting the highest number of hotspots, followed the USA and the UK. The study predicts that by 2018, US and China will take over in terms of hotspot numbers, with France moving to the third place.

Wi-Fi  on the move is also becoming a strong trend with 60 percent of planes and 11 percent of trains expected to feature the service by 2018, close to 4X increase from the current 16 percent of planes and 3 percent of trains. The report anticipates community based ‘homespot’ public Wi-Fi hotspots to see the most explosive growth, rising from just under 40 million in 2014 to over 325 million in 2018.

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.

Evan Kaplan, President and CEO of iPass, said: "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. Most of the devices we use are Wi-Fi only and even on the most advanced 4G handsets, 78 percent 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."

Peter White, co-founder, Maravedis Rethink, said: " The growth in community hotspots is taking public Wi-Fi from the cities to the suburbs. The fixed line operators with superfast broadband in the ground are converting residential customers to community hotspot providers at the rate of 1 per second. For many years, all the talk around mobility has been on 3G/4G and a handful of mobile operators. Our data shows that in the coming years it’s Wi-Fi that will steal the limelight as consumers thirst for data goes beyond anything that cellular can deliver, and as business owners see the value Wi-Fi brings to helping them differentiate and innovate."

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