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Wi-Fi Connections Quadrupled in 2009, AT&T Says

Also cites research that hotspot usage 'is skyrocketing'

Offering a measure of the popularity of Wi-Fi, AT&T said its mobile broadband customers are increasingly using its Wi-Fi network to get online.

The company this week said its customers made 85.5 million connections to the Internet in 2009, the most ever, using AT&T’s Wi-Fi network four times as much as the year before. The fourth quarter alone saw more than 40% of the year’s total. “Fourth-quarter connections also surpassed the number of connections made in the entire first half of 2009.”

AT&T said it “expects Wi-Fi usage to continue to surge as more customers utilize Wi-Fi on their smartphones and integrated devices and have Wi-Fi included with their service. … With the rapid rise of Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and integrated devices, connections from these devices now comprise the majority of connections made on AT&T’s Wi-Fi network.”

Smartphones and integrated devices accounted for 72% of connections in the fourth quarter.

It also quotes research company In-Stat as saying that Wi-Fi is seeing renewed interest and increased usage as more users and businesses discover its benefits. It quotes an In-Stat official saying hotspot usage is “skyrocketing” and will continue to grow.