AT&T reported on a notable shift in how its customers access the Internet–evidence of the impact mobile devices and wireless networks are changing the habits of telecoms customers. The carrier reported that its customers made a record 85.5 million Internet connections via its Wi-Fi network–the nation’s largest as it points out–in 2009–four times more than 2008’s tally.
AT&T sees the rapidly growing number of smartphones and integrated handheld mobile devices as contributing significantly to the record-high number of Wi-Fi Internet connections. Its customers made 35.3 million Internet connections via Wi-Fi in 4Q 2009, up from 10 million in 4Q 2008. Smartphones and integrated devices made up 72 percent of 4Q the former and 61 percent of all Internet connections in 2009.
Researchers at In-Stat see a “resurgence” in Wi-Fi as well, the company notes. “Hotspot usage is skyrocketing, and our research shows that will only continue as the number of Wi-Fi capable devices and hotspot venues increase,” Frank Dickson, In-Stat vice president of Research, Mobile Internet, is quoted as saying. “Wi-Fi access has become easier than ever before with carriers like AT&T including it in wireless and broadband plans, with more businesses making Wi-Fi available as an amenity to their employees and customers, and with smartphones and other portable devices making it fast and simple to connect.”