Surging demand for wireless Internet will translate into a 47 percent jump in global Wi-Fi hotspots this year, a market research firm said on Thursday.
An ABI Research forecast concluded that the number of commercial Wi-Fi hotspots would increase to 143,700 this year.
The report said that 74 percent of the hotspots could be found in North America and Europe, but that the Asia-Pacific region was growing very rapidly.
"By 2011 the Asia-Pacific region will surpass both Europe and North America in the number of Wi-Fi hotspots," said vice president and research director Stan Schatt.
For the moment, Europe is still the market leader with over 57,000 hotspots, ABI said.
A major driver of Wi-Fi hotspots is retail establishments such as the McDonalds chain, which has hotspots at 4,000 locations worldwide.
ABI said its research shows more hotspots and more people using them for longer periods.
"There also has been a dramatic increase in the number of Wi-Fi sessions per subscriber," the report said. "This means that subscribers are lingering longer and spending more time doing their e-mail and surfing the Internet."
Another major force is the hotel industry, which has been increasing its wireless Internet offerings. Schatt said that by 2010 the hospitality industry will offer more than 109,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.