iPass has revealed the results of new research into global public Wi-Fi hotspot deployments, through its Wi-Fi growth map.
The data, from analysts Maravedis Rethink, shows there will be 47.7 million public Wi-Fi hotspots deployed worldwide by the end of 2014.
The map shows that over the next four years global hotspot numbers will grow to over 340 million; nearly one Wi-Fi hotspot for every twenty people on earth by 2018. This compares to one Wi-Fi hotspot for every 150 people today.
Further Wi-Fi growth map highlights include:
- France is the “country of Wi-Fi” in 2014 with the most hotspots in total, followed by the USA, and the UK. By 2018 this will change to the USA, followed by China, and France.
- Europe is the “continent of Wi-Fi” with 50% of the world’s Wi-Fi estate in 2014. By 2018, Asia will strip Europe of this title.
- Today, China has 5 times more commercial Wi-Fi hotspots than any other country.
- Community Wi-Fi has been driven by Europe and then North America, but Asia will catch up in 2018.
Planes, Trains, and Community Hotspots
Wi-Fi is also on the move, becoming available on 60% of planes and 11% of trains by 2018. This compares to only 16% of planes and 3% of trains equipped with Wi-Fi in 2014.
Community ‘homespot’ public Wi-Fi hotspots will see the most explosive growth, rising from just under 40 million in 2014 to over 325 million in 2018.
The Wi-Fi Revolution
The research showed that Wi-Fi is changing the power structures in the telecommunications industry.
50% of all commercial hotspots are controlled by brands whose core business isn’t telecommunications.
Just a few years ago there were only a handful of Wi-Fi suppliers, now there are millions. As opposed to the highly-regulated cellular world, Wi-Fi is organic, emergent, and empowering – it’s not regulated and it’s easy for anyone to deploy.
As a result, we are witnessing a power shift from traditional telcos to business owners, such as cafes, hoteliers, and retailers who are all getting in on the Wi-Fi game.
Wi-Fi in South Africa
According to the research there are currently 8,611 commercial hotspots in South Africa. This equates to one hotspot for every 6,155 people in the country.
These hotspots are mainly located at retail outlets (3,211), hotels (3,099), and cafes (2,256).