Nov. 23, 2011 at 6:21 PM ET
Let's face it, while we may tolerate dropped calls from time to time as a circumstance of traveling or other obstacles, heaven forbid there be no Wi-Fi at your destination, or en route. It's something we've grown to expect since we can get it at the airport, coffee shops and certainly on visits to family during holiday weeks like this.
A recent study projects a four-fold increase in global, public Wi-Fi hotspots to 5.8 million by 2015, mostly due to consumers who want it for their smartphones and tablets.
Devicescape, a company that has more than 4 million hotspots around the world in its Virtual Wi-Fi Network, summed it up this way in a study of 1,040 users:
While carriers promote Wi-Fi as a cost-saving measure for their users, the reality is that Wi-Fi is everywhere, and in most cases, it is free. Wi-Fi offers unlimited bandwidth, and can be accessed for free in many public places like parks, schools, cafés and retail stores. It is also becoming easier to use, thanks to evolving Wi-Fi applications and smartphone hardware that makes the process of locating and logging onto Wi-Fi networks a seamless and often passive activity done automatically by the network operator.
All these points contribute to an overwhelming majority of respondents (83.1 percent) who expect their service provider to offer a Wi-Fi network through a bundled package.
And, if given a choice, mobile consumers would rather transmit data via Wi-Fi than use cellular networks, such as 3G: "86 percent of respondents believe that data runs better on Wi-Fi, and an even larger percentage — 88 percent — perceive it to be a less-expensive alternative to 3G."
Meraki, a company focused on cloud networking, released a study in June that found:
- The average iPad consumes over 400% more Wi-Fi data than the average Android, iPod, and iPhone.
- Between 2010 and 2011, mobile platforms overtook desktop platforms in percentage of Wi-Fi devices.
- iOS and Android together now account for 58% of Wi-Fi devices, compared to 33% just one year ago.
With those kinds of numbers, it's no wonder Wi-Fi seems to be all the rage. Take our poll and tell us if you think Wi-Fi is a privilege, or a right.