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BT sees Wi-Fi usage double

Who needs a mobile network anyway?

BT is trumpeting figures that show Wi-Fi usage has doubled since last year, with users clocking up more than a million minutes a day during September - but all is not quite what it seems.

Access to BT's wireless network topped 10m minutes on one day during September, and average figures for the month are twice what they were during the same month in 2007. Of course, back in 2007 there were 100,000 fewer hotspots, which have sprung up thanks to BT FON; nor were there so many iPhone users whose handsets default to BT's Wi-Fi network where it's available.

But it's not all good news - since those figures were generated BT has lost their deal with The Cloud, reducing Openzone to 3,000 managed hotspots in the UK.

Thanks to BT FON the company certainly has a lot more hotspots these days - with partners the operator proudly boasts users in the UK and Ireland have 120,000 possible connection points. But at least 100,000 of those are BT FON installations, most of which aren’t anywhere useful (or indeed, anywhere at all) so the deal with The Cloud was significant.

September 2008 could well represent the high watermark for Wi-Fi usage in the UK - from here things can only go down. Still, a million minutes in a day is still an awful lot of communications, and it's hard to imagine so much data shifting to the 3G cellular networks any time soon. ®

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