Figures from ABI Research reveal that they will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.2 percent between this year and 2020, and by the end of that time there will be 13.3 million of them.
Liam Jye Su, a research associate at ABI, said: “Wi-fi deployments have been surprisingly robust, and more and more public locations have signed up on a free or ‘premium’ basis. This has discouraged the participation of third party operators in some locales because there is a need for the upgrade of service, coverage and legacy equipment, only beneficial for operators with significant economies of scale.”
Some mobile operators are re-considering their attitude to public hotspots because of the high cost of sales with a low return on investment on residential wi-fi. British Telecom and China Telecom, for example are entering partnerships with third parties.
Wi-fi hotspots also have the benefit for operators of offloading mobile data traffic, more especially in urban environments.