The number of Wi-Fi hotspots continues to grow, worldwide. A recent report published by the largest commercial international Wi-Fi service provider, iPass, provides a current status for the availability of Wi-Fi hotspots in different countries and estimates future growth. Its live map shows how the over 44 million hotspots are distributed across the globe. Three quarters of these are hosted by domestic access points. Half of the total number are available to iPass subscribers (mostly business people) to enable them to enjoy roaming connections.
The USA, France and the UK (which has with a hot-spot for every 11 people) occupy the three top places in terms of hot-spot density. By 2018, iPass estimates that there will be 340m hot-spots - one for every 20 people on the planet.
With the rapid expansion of demand for capacity, there has been great commercial interest in building networks of Wi-Fi hotspots – facilitated by at least the operating costs being picked up by end users. Internet service providers typically supply Wi-Fi access points as part of the broadband access service and now increasingly see these as an attractive means of supporting a comprehensive Wi-Fi coverage. This coverage can translate into revenues from mobile operators seeking to offload traffic from cellular hotspots as well as end users who explicitly need Wi-Fi access as they move around.
BT operates a service called Openzone – based on around 5m access points deployed in customer premises across the UK. In return for allowing their own access network to be partitioned (into private and public networks), these customers can enjoy BT Wi-Fi access when they are travelling around.
Larkhill recently presented at the World WiFi Summit, in Barcelona on 29th October 2014. Our talk introduced the topic of dynamic sharing of the white spaces spectrum (DSA) and its implications for the future of Wi-Fi - particularly noting the recent publication of the IEEE 802.11 af standard, which adds TV white spaces to the growing family of Wi-Fi bands (currently 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).
Sources of the iPass news: Marvedis-Rethink, Electronics Weekly