Wi-Fi Networks Spark Fivefold Increase In Remote Web Use

Five percent of adults in the United States accessed the Web from remote locations such as bars, restaurants, and airports last year--up from 1 percent in 2004, according to new data by market research firm Ipsos Insight. Globally, 9 percent of adults went online from public places last year--up from 5 percent in 2004, according to the research company.

Spurring the increase has been the expansion of wi-fi hotspots and build-out of municipal wireless networks. About 250 U.S. cities have initiated municipal wireless projects, and research firm IDC expects the overall market to increase from $88 million in 2006 to $512 million by 2010. A growing number of cities--including Sacramento, San Francisco, and Portland--are developing wi-fi municipal networks supported either wholly or in part on advertising-based models.

The ability to access the Web anywhere is spreading much faster in North America than in any other part of the world, as one-third of adults in the hemisphere have gone online wirelessly using a notebook PC within the past 30 days, according to the Ipsos report. That growth is driven in part by the increased use of in-home wireless networks in the U.S. and Canada.

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The growth of inexpensive wireless Internet service also helped to boost worldwide sales of notebook computers by eight percentage points while desktop PC growth stagnated.

For the study, Ipsos interviewed more than 6,500 adults, including 3,642 active Internet users in 12 global markets last November and December.

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