Business Use of Wi-Fi Hotspots Nearly Doubles in 2007; Use of 3G Mobile Broadband on the Rise
see the full study
iPass Inc a global provider of services that unify the management of enterprise mobility, today announced it has enhanced its twice-yearly Wi-Fi Hotspot Index to include enterprise 3G usage statistics and has changed the survey's name to the iPass Mobile Broadband Index. The new report includes H2 2007 statistics on global Wi-Fi Hotspot usage and adds new information on 2007 2.5G and 3G mobile data usage in the US. .
The iPass Mobile Broadband Index summarizes internal data collected by iPass and is intended to represent usage behavior across its base of more than 3,000 enterprise customers, including more than 400 of the Forbes Global 2000.
Europe Poised to Overtake US in Wi-Fi Use
The second half of 2007 saw another strong performance for Wi-Fi, as hotspot usage by business users increased 89% over H2 2006. Based on data gathered from over two million sessions during the period, the Index again demonstrated European growth rapidly outpacing the US, with Europe expanding its worldwide share of hotspot use to 40%, up from 31%, as America's representation dropped from 59% to 51%. Also, London increased its lead as the world capital of Wi-Fi with usage rising by 156% over the same time period last year.
Latin America was the latest region to demonstrate exceptional growth in Wi-Fi, with usage skyrocketing 133% over H2 2006 and Brazil debuting on the top 10 country list after tripling its Wi-Fi usage. At the city level, Tokyo placed third with impressive 118% growth, behind London and Singapore and followed by New York. Japan's growth reinforces data from IDC which states that Japan's mobile workforce is increasing at the world's fastest rate.
Business travel venues continued to dominate the field, and now account for more than three out of every four sessions globally. Airports led usage with 45% of sessions overall. However, hotels are rapidly gaining popularity with 146% growth, and now account for 29% of overall global usage—up from 23% last year. Emerging venue types such as train stations and ferries also contributed to the growth. Usage at train stations mushroomed 238% year over year and new deployments on the trains themselves will likely continue this growth. This explosive growth was driven by London and Tokyo in particular, where rail travel is essential for commuters.
For those who are locally mobile, restaurants with Wi-Fi showed great promise, with growth that outstripped traditional retail Wi-Fi venues such as cafés and bookstores. Usage in restaurants was up 217% year over year, versus only 35% growth for cafés and 26% in bookstores over the same period. Over the same period, restaurants' share expanded from 9% to 16%, mostly at the expense of cafés, which dropped from 54% to 44%.
3G Mobile Broadband Growing Steadily
The 3G portion of the Index was created from a sample set of thousands of iPass Mobile Office enterprise end-users in the US.
Key findings shed light on how businesspeople are using 3G to do their jobs:
* Monthly usage increased steadily throughout the year, growing from an average of 152 MB per user in the first quarter of 2007 to 190 MB in the fourth quarter. Of those more established users who had been on the service since January 2007, monthly usage averaged 188 MB in Q1 and 225 MB in Q4, indicating that usage seems to rise with experience.
* At the extreme, a small number of users exceeded 2 GB of usage in a given month. These heavy users accounted for less than one half of one percent of all users in the sample and were offset by the 32% of businesspeople who used on average less than 50 MB in a month.
* Users tended to use their mobile broadband capability quite regularly. More than 90% of established users were active in any given month.
2.5G Still Necessary for Many Businesspeople
One unexpected finding was that while 3G was the dominant cellular technology, accounting for over 70% of all connections, a majority of users had to fall back to slower 2.5G technology. iPass attributes this to the need for indoor use and travel outside of the major metropolitan areas where 3G coverage is concentrated. Over 2007, 62% of users required 2.5G at some point each month. While only 3% of users relied solely on 2.5G during a given month, iPass believes this low number may reflect some users abandoning mobile data for Wi-Fi hotspots or home broadband when they can't get a high-speed 3G connection.
"The results of our Mobile Broadband Index suggest that no single technology can meet all the needs of an enterprise workforce, which is why iPass focuses on delivering value by unifying the management of these various access methods," stated Joel Wachtler, vice-president of marketing and strategy at iPass. "While 3G provides broadband download speeds in domestic metropolitan areas, users need Wi-Fi hotspots for fast bi-directional access everywhere else as well as to avoid high international 3G roaming charges. We expect both Wi-Fi hotspots and 3G to continue to grow as enterprises rollout a complete toolkit to their mobile workers."