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Worldwide Business Use of Wi-Fi Hotspots Increases by 46%; US 3G Data Use Grows 59%

September 23
21:32 2008

(Web Hosting News) London, UK., – iPass Inc., (NASDAQ: IPAS) a global provider of services that unify the management of enterprise mobility, today released the latest edition of the iPass Mobile Broadband Index, which tracks the wireless use patterns of mobile workers around the world. The report shows worldwide business use of iPass Wi-Fi hotspots increased by 46% from the first half of 2007 to the first half of 2008 and that users of 2.5G and 3G mobile broadband technologies in the US increased their data traffic in the second quarter of the year by 59% between 2007 and 2008.  Other key findings include rapid growth of Wi-Fi in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, and the emergence of hotels, restaurants, train stations and public places as high-growth venues.

Europe Passes North America in Wi-Fi Use

For the first time, European business use of Wi-Fi hotspots eclipsed North America in the first half of 2008.  Europe grew its use 89% year over year and now accounts for 47% of global use, up from 36% in 1H 2007. In fact, nearly 70% of the growth in global Wi-Fi came from Europe and seven of the top ten countries in the world are in Europe.

In the first half of 2008, the UK capital’s session count was up by 27% on H2 2007, with an average session length of 57 minutes.  North America grew 17% year over year and now accounts for 45% of usage, down from 56% the year before, while Asia Pacific grew by 54% to hold steady at 6% of worldwide share.  Latin America and the remaining world regions grew at 98% and 76% respectively but each only accounts for 1% of global usage.

“The results of the latest Mobile Broadband Index indicate that businesspeople worldwide continue to do more work away from the office, whether they’re on a business trip, commuting, or checking email at a nearby café or restaurant,” said Joel Wachtler, vice-president of marketing and strategy, iPass. “We see both Wi-Fi hotspots and 3G mobile broadband playing an important role in keeping the workforce productive, and iPass expects WiMAX and other 4G technologies to continue this trend towards a ubiquitously connected multi-technology world.”

There were several shifts among top cities that reflected global Wi-Fi usage trends. London remains the top city for business users of Wi-Fi, although high growth in Singapore and Tokyo, which came in at number two and three respectively, cut into its lead.  The UK capital boasted over 31,000 user sessions (excluding airports and hotels) in the first half of 2008, up by 27% on H2 2007, with an average session length of 57 minutes.  Chicago replaced New York as the top U.S. city, and was fifth in the world. The only countries with multiple cities in the Top 10 were the US, with Chicago, Seattle, New York, Houston and San Francisco; and Germany, where Munich doubled and Bonn quadrupled its Wi-Fi usage over the past year.

Intercity travel venues remain the most popular, accounting for nearly three quarters of sessions globally.  Airports are still on top with 40% of overall sessions, but dropped from 46% during the same time last year, as nearly all the major airports already have Wi-Fi.  Heathrow moved up two spots, passing Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco airports, to become the world’s third most popular airport for Wi-Fi usage with the number of sessions up by 77% on last year.  As demonstrated in earlier indexes, hotel sessions were much longer than the average, at 167 minutes per session, followed by around an hour for cafes, restaurants and other retail locations, and only 40 minutes for airports.

Wi-Fi in Train Stations – Full Steam Ahead

Commuter transit locations, such as train stations and ferries demonstrated extremely strong growth of 79% year on year, as Wi-Fi expands into these well-frequented venues around the world. London city train stations led the way with the most number of Wi-Fi sessions, followed by the Japan Rail train network.  The most popular UK train station for hotspot use was London Paddington followed by Reading and London Euston stations.  A surprise was the Seattle-area Washington State Ferry system, which came in third worldwide, ahead of the popular Heathrow Express airport trains that connect London with the airport.

For road warriors and other locally mobile workers, the most dramatic growth came in hotspots located in public venues such as business parks, payphones and city centers. While still small in total, Wi-Fi use in public locations more than tripled and was marked by average session lengths of nearly three hours.  Restaurants continue to increase in popularity, and with use more than doubling they now account for 5% of the worldwide usage.  While cafes were still easily the largest retail category, their annual growth slowed to 18%, perhaps signaling some saturation of this early segment for Wi-Fi hotspots.

3G US Mobile Broadband Use up 59%

Based on data sampled from thousands of iPass Mobile Office enterprise end-users in the US, per-user utilization of mobile broadband grew by 59% from Q2 2007 to Q2 2008, settling at an average of 211 MB per user per month.  Interestingly, among long-time users, monthly 3G data traffic was relatively flat over the past year at around 200 MB per month, indicating that the usage tends to ramp up during the first six to twelve months of 3G adoption before reaching a plateau.

Very heavy users accounted for a disproportionate amount of the data traffic growth, with the top 10% of users accounting for half of the overall usage growth.  This may indicate a growing tendency for a small slice of the market to rely on 3G for all remote access (for example, at home or in a hotel) as opposed to true on-the-go usage.  The percentage of users with over 1 GB of traffic per month more than doubled from Q2 2007 (1.2% of all users) to Q2 2008 (2.9%). In contrast, median mobile broadband usage remained relatively unchanged, moving from 96 MB per month in Q207 to 93 MB per month in Q2 2008.

Not surprisingly, the data indicates that 3G network coverage in the US has continued to mature.  In Q1 2007 only 35% of users were able to rely solely on 3G throughout a given month with the remainder forced to fall back on slower 2.5G technology occasionally.  By Q2 2008 the number of 3G-only users had risen to 53%.

The iPass Mobile Broadband Index lists H1 2008 statistics for global Wi-Fi hotspot and usage of 2.5G and 3G mobile broadband 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 3,500 enterprise customers, including more than 400 of the Forbes Global 2000.  The full study is available at www.ipass.com/mobileindex.

About iPass Inc.
iPass helps enterprises unify the management of remote and mobile connectivity and devices. With iPass software and services, customers can create easy-to-use broadband solutions for their mobile workers, home offices, and branch and retail locations, complete with device management, security validation, and unified billing. iPass offerings are powered by its leading global virtual network, on-demand management platform, and award-winning client software. The iPass global virtual network unifies hundreds of wireless, broadband and dial-up providers in over 160 countries. Hundreds of Global 2000 companies rely on iPass services, including General Motors, Nokia, and Reuters. Founded in 1996, iPass is headquartered in Redwood Shores, Calif., with offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

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