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In-Stat: Hotspot Use Shifting Toward Handhelds

Access also is becoming more consumer-oriented

Wi-Fi handset shipments have exploded over the past year, and will continue to show strong growth over the next several years. That’s according to a study by In-Stat.

With the increasing prevalence of Wi-Fi-enabled handsets, hotspot use by handheld devices has increased significantly. As a percentage of total connects, handhelds increased from 20% in 2008 to 35% in 2009, bringing total worldwide connects to 1.2 billion, according to the research organization.

By 2011 handhelds are anticipated to account for half of hotspot connects, according to “Wi-Fi Hotspots: Cellular Handsets and Portable Devices Drive a Market Renaissance.”

Other factors are affecting the growth of handhelds, according to the results.

Mobile carriers are promoting the use of Wi-Fi handset devices on their networks. New dual-mode Wi-Fi phones are coming to market and growth of applications, such as content download, will drive the use of handheld devices over the coming years, says In-Stat.

The ubiquity of Wi-Fi has created hotspot coverage as an expected amenity at many places of business, says company analyst Frank Dickson. While consumer or leisure users do not often carry a laptop, they do have Wi-Fi-enabled handhelds and are using these devices to access hotspots. This, coupled with the service being bundled with mobile plans, is making hotspot access more consumer-oriented.