Wi-Fi Trumps Starbucks

A survey from the Wi-Fi Alliance says users would rather give up Starbucks than Wi-Fi access, and indicates a growing interest in security.

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced Oct. 31 that Americans like their Wi-Fi more than they like Starbucks.

The organization, reporting on a study it carried out with Kelton Research, uncovered a number of interesting facts about U.S. Wi-Fi users. For example, 89 percent of the 549 American Wi-Fi users surveyed said they would do without Starbucks rather than give up Wi-Fi.

However, that choice shouldnt be necessary, since most Starbucks coffee shops feature T-Mobile HotSpots.

Also, the respondents werent asked if they were willing to give up coffee entirely, just Starbucks.

The responses varied by age, with 92 percent of those 18 to 29 saying they were unwilling to give up Wi-Fi.

"I think this really goes to the pervasiveness of Wi-Fi, particularly for younger audiences," said Frank Hanzlik, managing director of the Wi-Fi alliance, based in Austin, Texas. "Theyre making Wi-Fi a part of their lives," he said. "Its part of their DNA."

The survey also showed that Wi-Fi users are taking the need for security seriously, as 77 percent of survey respondents reported that they had implemented the security features on their Wi-Fi networks.

"Weve been working as an organization on security for a number of years," Hanzlik said. "Weve rolled out a number of security initiatives such as our WPA and WPA2 programs."

/zimages/6/28571.gifThe Metasploit Project plans to include Wi-Fi exploits. Click here to read more.

Hanzlik said the Wi-Fi Alliance is working on ways to make enabling security features faster and easier so that more people will use them. For example, he said, the Wi-Fi Alliance is "rolling out Wi-Fi Protected Setup," a new specification developed by the Wi-Fi alliance to make setup easier. "It leverages some of the innovations that individual manufacturers have developed using push-button technology or auto configuration wizards," he said.

In what may be the most shocking revelation of the survey, Midwesterners especially were more willing to see their favorite sports team lose a critical game than to give up Wi-Fi.

Reiterating that the technology has become part of users lives, Hanzlik noted that Wi-Fi is moving into many areas beyond simply providing wireless data to notebook computers. "Its showing up in gaming devices and phones," he said. "Youll see it becoming a key ingredient in a variety of portable devices."

And how does he feel about survey respondents choosing Wi-Fi over Starbucks? "Thats the great thing," Hanzlik said, "you dont have to force a tradeoff."

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Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...