Business use of Wi-Fi hotspots grows by 46%, 3G use increases by 59%

iPass released the latest edition of its Mobile Broadband Index which shows that business use of Wi-Fi hotspots (in the iPass network) grew by 46% between the first half of 2007 and the first half of 2008. 3G data use in the US increased by 59% between Q2 2007 and Q2 2008. Please note that the statistics come from the iPass hotspot network; until recently, the iPass service was open only to enterprises (as opposed to Boingo’s, which is open to everyone), so the numbers reflect business use of Wi-Fi.

Other interesting findings:

(1) For the first time, in the first half of 2008 European business use of Wi-Fi exceeded that of the US; it now accounts for 47% of global use of Wi-Fi, up from 36% in 2007; 70% of the growth in worldwide Wi-Fi use came from Europe.

  • there are more Wi-Fi hotspots in Europe (50,000 locations) than in the US (25,000);
  • usage pattern in Europe is different: European business people use Wi-Fi to avoid data and voice roaming charges;
  • countries showing top Wi-Fi use: UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Netherlands.

(2) Airports account for 40% of Wi-Fi use, followed by hotels (34%) and cafes/retail locations (26%).

  • in airports, average length of a session is 40 minutes, hotels 167 minutes, cafes 68 minutes;
  • average of the above three is 90 minutes.

Top five airports in Wi-Fi use: Chicago O’Hare, Atlanta, Heathrow, Dallas, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Frankfurt, Schiphol (Amsterdam) and Charles de Gaulle (Paris).

(3) Top 10 cities: London, Singapore, Tokyo, Munich, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Houston, Bonn and SF (the statistics for cities excludes their airports).

I am quite surprised that Bonn is high up on the list given that it’s a very small city. Where are Berlin and Hamburg?

(4) 3G broadband use in the US has also grown dramatically, up 59% from last year (the average number of megabytes consumed per use is 211 megabytes per month). A small number of users consumes 1 gigabyte or more per month (possibly because they use it in lieu of a DSL or cable connection) but their number more than doubled from 2007 to 2008. If more people use data hungry applications on 3G networks, the operators will need to increase capacity dramatically.

  • number of sessions on a 3G network increased from 74% (Q2 2007) to 86% (Q2 2008);
  • number of sessions on a 2.5G network decreased from 26% to 14% in the same period.

The statistics show that more people have 3G phones and the 2.5G networks are slowly being upgraded in the US.

(5) Use of Wi-Fi in train stations and other public transport locations grew 110% between 2007 and 2008 with London city train stations showing the largest number of sessions followed by Japan Rail’s network. The Seattle Washington Ferry system came in third, followed by Heathrow Express trains.

(6) Most dramatic growth in usage occurred in public hotspots such as business parks and city centers. Use in these locations grew by over 500%, with average session length of almost 3 hours. Cafes were still the largest in the retail category but growth slowed to 18% (saturation, perhaps).

To see the results of the survey, go to


  1. Looks like Europe is really taking off.