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Wi-Fi Access Increases Time Spent Online

  |  February 26, 2007   |  Comments

Wi-Fi users exhibit higher engagement while using the Web from home, work, and elsewhere.

Americans increasingly access the Web via Wi-Fi from work, home, and elsewhere. Roughly 34 percent of Internet users have gone online wirelessly, according to a report on wireless Internet access released by The Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Wi-Fi home use accounts for about 19 percent of Internet users; 17 percent access the Web wirelessly at work; and 27 percent of the online population have accessed the Web via Wi-Fi outside the home and workplace. Three-quarters of those who access the Web wirelessly have done so from multiple locations.

Wi-Fi users exhibit deeper engagement online. Of the 34 percent of Internet users who access the Web wirelessly, 2 percent check e-mail on a typical day, compared with 63 percent of home broadband users and 54 percent of the total Internet population. Forty-six percent of wireless users go online to get news each day, compared to 38 percent of the home broadband population, and 31 percent of all Internet users.

The flexible access Wi-Fi allows gives way to "relentless connectivity" and makes wireless users predisposed to higher engagement. It further allows lines between work and personal life to fade. "The boundaries between checking e-mail on a portable device for work or personal purposes can be very blurry; having such work-driven access may foster greater frequency of personal e-mailing or other kinds of online activities," the report said. "It's likely the combination of portability and network availability," said Pew Internet Associate Director of Research John Horrigan. "I respond to your e-mail now because of work, but I will check personal e-mail and the news once I'm done with this."

The study also looks at cell phone Web use. Twenty-five percent of Internet users have a mobile phone with Web access. Of these, 54 percent have used it to go online from home, work, or elsewhere. Forty-seven percent accessed the Web outside of home or work, while almost equal numbers logged on from work (28 percent), and home (27 percent).

Pew Internet conducted a survey in December 2006 of 2,373 adults age 18 or older, of which 1,623 were Internet users. Half the sample (798 Internet users) received questions pertaining to wireless Internet use.

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Enid Burns

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