AT&T has announced that the release of the latest iPhone 3.0 firmware has lead to a dramatic increase in its WiFi hotspot usage. Use has increased nearly 41% over the previous quarter, according to AT&T.
The major reason for such a spike, is the fact that the 3.0 firmware update included an easier way for users to login to freely available hotspots sponsored by AT&T at places like Starbucks, McDonalds and other public places.
Before the update, users had to enter their phone number, recieve an SMS message with an embedded link, and click the link to be logged into any WiFi network. Now, the iPhone will automatically detect and log a user in automatically. This ease of connection has resonated with consumers, and usage is finally taking off.
AT&T, and other carriers, have been introducing massive WiFi networks to its customers using smartphones in an attempt to save bandwidth on their 3G networks. AT&T in particular has a major need for this shift, given that increased iPhone saturation is putting a major burden on its network.
Any attempt to get users off its network and using WiFi is a win for AT&T- and it’s doing a pretty good job at it. The company said it has already had 25.6 million WiFi connections for 2009, which already surpasses the 20 million times the service was used in all of 2008.
It’s a relatively smart move for a company that’s been receiving plenty of bad press regarding its weathered 3G network and its surge of iPhone data usage. By covering as much ground as possible with WiFi, AT&T is making sure it’s network remains strong- but will it work? Early reports say it’s helping more than expected, but we’ll have to wait and see.