June 5, 2007 -- ABI Research forecasts that in 2007, the amount of Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide will grow by nearly 25%, to 179,500. While 72% or almost three-quarters of these sites are still found in North America and Europe, the Asia Pacific region is growing very rapidly, finds the firm.
Also, growth in China has been much slower than originally thought. Still, the Asia Pacific region will come close to matching the number of North American hotspots by 2012.
The firm reports that Europe remains the market leader with over 70,000 hotspots, and that one major driver of Wi-Fi hot spots is retail establishments. For instance, according to the firm, McDonald's is making rapid progress in turning its 4,000 locations into hotspots.
"The growing Wi-Fi hotspot market is fueling a demand for Wi-Fi access points," says ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt. "More than 900,000 access points will be shipped this year specifically for use in hotspots. Not only are hotspot and subscriber numbers growing, but we have observed a dramatic increase in the number of Wi-Fi sessions per subscriber. This means that subscribers are connecting more often to check their e-mail and surf the Internet."
With almost 46,000 hotspots worldwide, the hospitality industry continues to embrace Wi-Fi. ABI further believes that voice-over-Wi-Fi will become "a very attractive choice" for many major hotel chains, both for guests and staff. Many hospitality operators are using their Wi-Fi networks for internal communications as well as public hotspots for guests; many are also using Vocera "Star Trek-type" communicator devices to talk with employees via Wi-Fi.
"Carriers will have to adjust their business models to deal with consumers who will trade expensive cell phone minutes for free voice over Wi-Fi calls via hotspots," contends Schatt.
Also, the firm reports that cellphone operators such as Boingo and Wayport are working with handset manufacturers to ensure that Wi-Fi-enabled phones will function at these two operators' hotspots, even though they might not have the Web browsers normally required for authentication.
ABI's "Wi-Fi Hotspot Market Data" report provides users with historical market data for Wi-Fi hotspots and five-year forecasts that include the number of Wi-Fi hotspots by region and by venue type, as well as the number of access points shipped for hotspots. Wi-Fi hotspot subscribers, revenue per hotspot, and total Wi-Fi hotspot revenue by subscriber type are also included.