Feature Article

April 04, 2013

More Brits Accessing Public Wi-Fi with Mobile Devices

With the explosion of smartphones and other mobile devices, more U.K. citizens are logging into public Wi-Fi access points.

Almost a quarter of Britons used public Wi-Fi in shops, pubs and restaurants along the country’s “high streets,” equivalent to American downtown areas, according to a survey by The Cloud, a source of public Wi-Fi.

“Some seven million people pass through The Cloud’s venues every day, with hotspots ranging from Wick in the Highlands to Penzance in Cornwall, all in the kinds of venues where people want to take time to surf the web, catch up on emails, news and sport, and even listen to music or stream HD video,” said Vince Russell, managing director of The Cloud.

The Cloud says that these people are turning the “high street” into the “i-street.”

Users often find that 3G speeds are throttled and that 4G penetration is very small, but Wi-Fi is both fast and ubiquitous.

About 6 percent of Britons with mobile devices connected to The Cloud’s Wi-Fi hotspots every day. Nearly 28 million people in the U.K own smartphones and 7.3 million of them have tablets.

One in three, or 33 percent of the population, between the ages of 25 and 34 accessed the hotspots at least once a week, and one in 11, or about 9 percent, accessed the network at least once a day.

Most of those who accessed The Cloud’s networks were in London, and most of them only did so briefly, most likely to make a quick check of e-mail and social media accounts. The Cloud calls these people “Wi-Fi snackers.”

Many users do stick around for more than just a nibble. A third of them stay logged in for more than 15 minutes, and 8 percent of them use the network for more than 30 minutes.

Other cities in the U.K. are attracting more Wi-Fi users. Beside London, the most frequent connectors were in Bristol, Cardiff, Nottingham and Reading.

Edited by Braden Becker

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