WiFi Wars: San Fran Trumps NYC
San Francisco can add one more bragging point in the battle of the coasts: more pervasive and open WiFi, according to a new study from Devicescape.
WiFi vendor Devicescape Software Inc. curates what it calls "amenity" WiFi hotspots -- free public access points in bars, retail outlets, and other venues, which also lets it keep an eye on more than 250 million hotspots. In a recent study of those APs using data from its Curator Service Platform and from clients directly on "tens of millions" of consumer devices, the WiFi provider took a look at the status of networks in San Francisco versus NYC.
The results suggest that indoor WiFi is, on average, more than twice as prevalent in the West coast city versus the East coast city. Forty-seven percent of businesses in San Fran offer WiFi compared with 23 percent in NYC. The differences are greatest in retail stores, with 39 percent of stores in San Fran offering it as opposed to only 9 percent in NYC.
Much like the people, WiFi in San Fran is also a lot more easygoing than in NYC. Of public WiFi hotspots, 54 percent of those in San Fran don't require a password, while only 41 percent of NYC's are unprotected, according to Devicescape.
What's more, 86 percent of San Fran chains and 41 percent of independents have open WiFi, meaning users only need to click and accept terms on a portal versus enter a password on a private network. In NYC, 81 percent of chains and 36 percent of independents also employed the open model.
Why this matters
San Fran and NYC are two good markets to study when it comes to WiFi. For one thing, when the iPhone first overloaded AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s cellular network in 2007, these two cities were hit the hardest. They are both major metro areas populated with tech-savvy, data-heavy mobile users. In an age where WiFi is as important as coffee or beer to a lot of people, these are cities that operators want to focus on as part of their carrier WiFi strategies.
The good news here is that where carriers have the biggest play, in public WiFi, both cities are faring well. As Devicescape notes, both have aggressive plans to expand public WiFi in parks and other outdoor spaces. At the top 100 major attractions in each city, WiFi was available in 46 percent in San Fran and 45 percent in NYC.
These type of outdoor spaces have become a major focus for wireless operators and cable companies alike as they look for ways to offload traffic or create a mobile presence, respectively.
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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading