Wireless Internet Usage Continues To Increase

    February 26, 2007

The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently conducted a study gauging the increasing prevalence of wireless connectivity among Internet users as a whole.

According to the findings of the report, nearly 34% of Internet users have logged onto the Internet using a wireless connection either around the house, at their workplace, or some place else.

This means that one-third of Internet users, making use of laptops or other mobile devices have surfed the Internet or checked email by means of a WiFi connection or a cell phone network.

Is this a good thing though?

The Pew report documents that those who rely on wireless access as their means of connecting to the Internet often develop differing online habits in comparison to their wired counterparts. Some of the behaviors may actually lead to a decrease in productivity.

Here’s what the report had to say:

The differences between wireless and home broadband users are statistically significant and notable because most wireless users (80%) have broadband connections at home. The findings suggest that the “relentless connectivity” afforded by wireless access represents a different quality in online behavior.

It is possible – even likely – that lifestyle circumstances such as one’s job may require lots of email connectivity and associated wireless access. But the boundaries between checking email on a portable device for work or personal purposes can be very blurry; having such work-driven access may foster greater frequency of personal emailing or other kinds of online activities.

Employers beware if you offer this kind of carte-blanche access to your employees; the results could actually wind up being counter-productive.

There also seems to be a line of demarcation among wireless users in terms of age. Pew has more:

Users of the wireless internet tend to be younger than internet users in general. For internet users under the age of 30:

· 37% have logged on wirelessly from anywhere.
· 32% have logged on wirelessly from someplace other than home or work.
· 25% log on wirelessly at home.
· 16% have gotten online by wireless means at work.

As the volume of wireless broadband increases, so does the demand for infrastructure on a municipal level. Google and Earthlink, notably, have worked to develop a MuniFi network for the city of San Francisco, but have since been met with both political and logistical opposition.

If the demand for wireless access continues to increase without more “hot spots” from which to log on, expect some serious brawling to go down at Starbucks in determining who gets the chair, and the caramel frappuccino (with extra caramel).

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