WiFi Access Essential, but Lacking for Mobile Workers: iPass

The survey revealed 82 percent of respondents feel that free hotel WiFi services are limited, slow and unreliable.

Access to wireless Internet in a hotel is as important as a comfortable bed, according to a survey of the mobile workforce. However, 81 percent have had unsatisfactory experiences with hotel WiFi in the past year, according to enterprise mobile services provider iPass.

The survey revealed 82 percent feel that free hotel WiFi services are limited, slow and unreliable, and nearly three-quarters (74 percent) said that a bad WiFi experience in a hotel would prevent a return visit. The survey also found 69 percent of respondents think that accessing and registering for WiFi access in hotels is difficult or cumbersome.

Tablet computers continue to be a favorite among mobile workers. The 10-inch iPad is still the preferred device, although nearly half (47 percent) of respondents chose 7- and 8-inch tablets as an intended tablet purchase in the next six months. This compares with 29 percent of respondents who had plans to purchase the fullsize iPad.

The majority of mobile workers log onto the Internet for business while on holiday, and they’re logging in more often than ever before, the survey revealed. Almost four in 10 (37 percent) of mobile workers now report connecting two to five times per day, which is up from 29 percent at this time last year. The number of users who log in five or more times per day grew from 6 percent a year ago to 13 percent this year.

"WiFi is a disruptive technology; it changes the way we work," Evan Kaplan, CEO of iPass, said in a statement. "This report spotlights some of the key trends driving that disruption, such as the proliferation of WiFi-enabled devices and access to bandwidth-hungry business applications like cloud apps, video conferencing and other unified communication tools, which demand quality Internet connections and define productivity for corporate travelers around the globe."

In-flight WiFi is also becoming a major consideration when making travel plans—with close to one-third of those surveyed indicating that they take WiFi into consideration when choosing a flight. But travelers are split on its monetary value; 31 percent of mobile workers felt that in-flight Internet should be a free amenity offered on airplanes, and 79 percent were willing to pay up to $10 per flight to access the Internet.

While half of the respondents would be willing to pay for WiFi while in the air, concerns about costs keep many mobile workers from taking full advantage of their smartphone or tablet while they travel. Only 18 percent said that they don’t limit the use of applications while roaming. The vast majority, however, do exercise restraint, and Web browsing takes the greatest hit at 56 percent.

The survey also indicated workers are a lot less likely to use mobile apps while they’re roaming. If traveling workers won’t use apps designed to help travelers because of the expense, then those apps can’t be very useful to the very people who need them the most.

The Q3 2013 iPass Mobile Workforce Report was based on information gathered in an online survey from more than 1,375 respondents who identified as mobile workers at hundreds of enterprises worldwide. iPass asked these respondents about their habits and preferences regarding usage of WiFi, smartphones and tablets, and their feelings about Internet access for these devices for business and leisure travel in hotels around the world.