DALLAS, Jan. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AT&T's mobile broadband customers are increasingly using the company's Wi-Fi network - the nation's largest - to connect to the Internet for e-mail, searching the Web and downloading music and video. AT&T* today reported that its customers made a record 85.5 million connections to the Internet in 2009 using AT&T's Wi-Fi network, four times the number of Wi-Fi connections made in 2008.
In the fourth quarter 2009, AT&T customers made 35.3 million Wi-Fi connections - up 10 million connections from the third quarter of 2009. Fourth quarter connections also surpassed the number of connections made in the entire first half of 2009.
AT&T, which offers the nation's most advanced mobile broadband experience, expects Wi-Fi usage to continue to surge as more customers utilize Wi-Fi on their smartphones and integrated devices and have Wi-Fi included with their service.
More and more customers are choosing Wi-Fi for its simple, reliable and fast connection and for its convenience. With the rapid rise of Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and integrated devices, connections from these devices now comprise the majority of connections made on AT&T's Wi-Fi network. Smartphones and integrated devices accounted for 72 percent of fourth-quarter connections and 61 percent of the total connections in 2009.
According to industry research firm In-Stat, Wi-Fi is seeing renewed interest and increased usage as more users and businesses discover its benefits. "Hotspot usage is skyrocketing, and our research shows that will only continue as the number of Wi-Fi capable devices and hotspot venues increase," said Frank Dickson, Vice President of Research, Mobile Internet, for In-Stat. "Wi-Fi access has become easier than ever before with carriers like AT&T including it in wireless and broadband plans, with more businesses making Wi-Fi available as an amenity to their employees and customers, and with smartphones and other portable devices making it fast and simple to connect."
AT&T continues to lead its competitors by including Wi-Fi for more than 27 million customers - as of third quarter 2009 - with AT&T High Speed Internet, AT&T U-verse(SM) High Speed Internet, and qualifying smartphone and 3G LaptopConnect plans. Those customers have convenient access at AT&T's more than 20,000 U.S. hotspots.
A recent AT&T survey found that 43 percent of AT&T Wi-Fi users said they accessed an AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spot four or more times in the past 30 days.
"Last year was a landmark year for AT&T Wi-Fi, and it shows in the tremendous response and usage we've seen from our customers and the leading venues we work with," said Angie Wiskocil, senior vice president, AT&T Wi-Fi Services. "The record growth has been driven by our commitment to provide reliable connectivity solutions, the choice and simplicity of convenient locations, an unmatched portfolio of Wi-Fi enabled devices and plans, and strong venue support. We look forward to accelerating that growth even further in 2010 and beyond."
AT&T's Wi-Fi network complements its wired broadband and wireless 3G networks, offering Wi-Fi connectivity in more than 20,000 U.S. hotspots - including retail stores and restaurants from coast-to-coast. A full list of AT&T Wi-Fi locations is available at www.attwifi.com.
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
Largest Wi-Fi network claim based on non-municipal company and owned and operated hotspots. A Wi-Fi enabled device required. Other restrictions apply. See www.attwifi.com for additional services, details and locations.
Wi-Fi access not included with AT&T WorldNet service.
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SOURCE AT&T Inc.