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Free WiFi improves visits, spend and length of stay, but 66% of users are still struggling to get online

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New research, covering 2,540 consumers, has discovered that 72% of respondents now use public WiFi – with 78% specifically look for free WiFi connections when out in public places. And this attracts visitors to retailers who offer it, improving footfall and spending.

So finds the study by cloud-based Social WiFi software company Purple Wifi, which reveals that 75% of respondents say they are more likely to stay in a location longer if it offers WiFi, and 63% are more likely to spend additional money in a venue that offersWiFi.

But the study reveals that knowledge of how to access Public WiFi is still lacking, with 66% of people being confused about how to get online; 54% believe they are automatically connected in a venue that offers WiFi, 7% believe they need to switch off and on again and 5% confirm that they simply don’t know how to access public WiFi.

In addition, the data also worryingly indicated that 17% do their banking via unsecured public WiFi, while 87% check emails, 69% update their social profiles, 63% browse the web, 27% use public WiFi for work purposes and 14% view video content.

Frequency of WiFi use is also growing as 48% of people use public WiFi at least once a week, 18% use Public WiFi at least once a day, and 25% at least once a month. The public also indicated that legislation should be in place to prevent illegal and explicit websites being accessed in public places, as 56% confirmed content filtering should be a legal requirement in public locations, and a further 26% said content filtering requirements should depend on the venue.

Gavin Wheeldon, CEO, Purple WiFi explains: “We developed this survey to highlight the trends that are now emerging from public WiFi use. We suspected that people are struggling to get online with the often complex sign up procedures of traditional WiFi, and once online we feared they are still unaware of the security risks. We now have the data to confirm that WiFi access is growing quickly and in much demand, but general knowledge of how to use it and how to access safely is still worryingly lacking.”

With the introduction of Hotspot 2.0, access to public WiFi will be simplified and safer. The WiFi provider will broadcast much more detail, including; is the WiFi open? Is it paid for? Does it require registration? Is it oversubscribed?

This will allow users to make informed decisions about the networks they select very quickly. It will also create a seamless experience where interaction with the network is notrequired if credentials are already in place. This would be the case if theuser’s mobile provider, broadband provider, hardware provider or anyone else has a pre-agreed roaming agreement with the network, meaning they can make the decisions in the background and connect users seamlessly.

Purple WiFi claims to alleviate the main issues found in the survey, with easy social login, a secure guest WiFi network and best practice content filtering. It is cloud-based which means that it can work with practically any hardware and is scalable in terms of customer need and geographic location.

The service allows companies to capitalise on the benefits of social networking by ensuring that anyone using the internet service within a public space such as a bar, cafe, restaurant or hotel, will be required to simply ‘like’ the relevant Facebook page or ‘tweet’ about their location to gain access.

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