The number of wi-fi internet hotspots in the UK could treble over the next few years, driven by growing demand from iPhone users and fresh interest in community wi-fi projects. Owen Geddes, chief executive of Freerunner, a start-up wi-fi company, estimates that the UK has about 10,000 public wi-fi hotspots at present, but expects this number to increase to around 30,000 by 2012. His company currently operates 1,200 hotspots, but plans to add 400 a month, with the aim of achieving 10,000 within two years.
Meanwhile, BT, which has 4,000 public hotspots across the UK, said it had seen traffic double in the past year and expected customers to be using close to 1 billion minutes of wi-fi on its networks in the year to March 2010.
Globally, wi-fi usage increased by 47 per cent in 2009, with about 245,000 hotspots located around the world, according to In-Stat, the market research company.