As Smartphones Gain, Need for Hotspots Grows

By Bowling, Brian | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 14, 2011 | Go to article overview

As Smartphones Gain, Need for Hotspots Grows


Bowling, Brian, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


The number of public Internet hotspots globally will more than quadruple over the next four years because cell phone companies must reduce the strain smartphones are placing on their communication systems, according to a recent wireless industry report.

Smartphones have matched laptops in North and Latin America when it comes to devices hooked up to hotspots, and they've passed laptops as the device of choice in Asia, the report by the Wireless Broadband Alliance says.

"Connections to wi-fi networks have historically been dominated by the laptops of the mobile work force," the report says, "but the rise of smartphones means that they are set to take over as the primary device connecting to public wi-fi networks."

Jon Peha, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who was an assistant director to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission, said it's not clear from the report how many of these public hotspots will be accessible by anyone with a device or limited to subscribers of a particular cell phone company.

"It's not entirely clear where they're drawing the line," he said.

Consequently, it's hard to guess how much impact a quadrupling of hotspots would have on Western Pennsylvania residents. On the other hand, the increased demand smartphones have placed on cellular networks worries companies and the government, he said. …

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