Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Friday, October 22, 2010

Worldwide Free Wi-Fi Hotspot Venue Usage Soars

Fast-food restaurants, coffee shops, book stores and other retail establishments continue to use Wi-Fi access to attract new customers -- and keep current customers coming back.

It's been proven, the availability of free Wi-Fi broadband access does influence venue choice.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, nearly two-thirds of their survey respondents indicated that free Wi-Fi influences their choice of venue. An additional 31 percent indicated that free access may influence their choice, and just 5 percent said that it would have no influence over venue choice.

"Our research shows that while revenue may not always be directly gleaned from the hotspot offering, free Wi-Fi has a significant value in bringing customers to a venue," says Amy Cravens, Market Analyst at In-Stat.

In some local retail business communities, pervasive access to free Wi-Fi has been used as a way to help revive a downtown or main-street marketplace -- in the hope of stimulating an small business economic recovery. Other communities are following the progress of these forward-looking retail pioneers.

Cravens adds, "It's no wonder then that over 150 thousand café or retail venues have now deployed Wi-Fi hotspots, although not all of these are free. That's in addition to the tens of thousands of travel-related broadband Internet access installations (at hotels, airports, in-flight) worldwide."

In-Stat's global market study findings include:

- Worldwide annual hotspot connects, or sessions, will reach over 2 billion by the end of 2010 with annual hotspot connects anticipated to grow to over 11 billion by 2014.

- Asia-Pacific region will have about one quarter of the worldwide hotspot venues over the forecast period.

- By 2012, handheld consumer electronics devices are anticipated to account for half of hotspot connects.

- The total worldwide hotspot market size will swell to 319,200 venues by year-end.