ABI Research predicts the number of WiFi hotspots will grow by 25 percent this year, to a total of 179,500.
While almost three-quarters of these sites (72%) are still found in North America and Europe, the Asia-Pacific region is growing very rapidly.
Growth in China has been much slower than originally thought. Still, the Asia-Pacific region will come close to matching the number of North American hotspots by 2012. Europe remains the market leader with over 70,000 hotspots. One major driver of Wi-Fi hotspots is retail establishments. McDonalds is making rapid progress in turning its 4,000 locations into hotspots.
"The growing Wi-Fi hotspot market is fueling a demand for Wi-Fi access points," says ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt. "More than 900,000 access points will be shipped this year specifically for use in hotspots. Not only are hotspot and subscriber numbers growing, but we have observed a dramatic increase in the number of Wi-Fi sessions per subscriber. This means that subscribers are connecting more often to check their e-mail and surf the Internet."