Wireless internet. WiFi. However you refer to it, you simply can’t deny that it’s something we’re all familiar with now.

A study in 2012 found a staggering 73% of UK homes had WiFi networks. The same study placed the UK second on worldwide household WiFi penetration, just behind South Korea at 80% and in front of Germany with 71%.

With 42% of homes globally predicted to have a wireless network by 2016, the question has to be asked… are businesses going the same way?

Security and legal issues highlighted

We recently conducted a survey aimed at sectors, businesses and industries where guest WiFi might be needed. The results were interesting to say the least. Whilst there’s a definite awareness of the need for WiFi in a business setting, some surprising issues were highlighted, some of which were quite concerning.

Over 3,500 respondents took part from a wide range of countries such as the US, India, China and South Africa. Whilst the primary sector surveyed was Hospitality, other industries including Retail, Education and Healthcare also took part.

On a positive note, over three quarters of those surveyed already offer free WiFi. However, one of the main issues raised seems to be around security and legal compliance. 82% of those asked believed they were legally compliant in providing public WiFi but upon looking more closely, this may not actually be the case.

In fact, nearly 90% of venues surveyed stated that they either run open networks, allowing anyone to access it, or they simply hand out a password or wrote it on the wall.

That’s almost 2000 venues, including some very large brand names.

This is not a good thing.

It indicates that these venues’ WiFi may not be fully secure, plus they have no method of tracking internet activity to a particular user, which is not best practice.

50% had no content filtering

Furthermore, over half of the venues surveyed confirmed they have no content filtering in place with many more admitting that they don’t actually know whether they do or don’t. The ability to block unsavoury, adult and illegal content is so important for public WiFi access, especially in locations like colleges, schools, hospitals and soft play areas where common sense tells us that unregulated internet access can present a multitude of issues.

Blind leading the blind

As well as the legal stuff, the survey findings also highlighted that only around 7% have any form of access to analytics and only 8.6% currently collect customer data.

Every day, dozens or hundreds of people walk through the doors to a business or venue, connect to a wireless network and use it. For that business or venue to not gather this data to aid in more effective marketing is a wasted opportunity.

We believe that businesses need to ensure the opportunity is taken to make the most of WiFi’s impressive potential as a communications/marketing tool.

Get the full Survey Report

A report on our findings can be downloaded as a PDF here.

What are your thoughts? Can businesses do more to provide WiFi to its customers? Is your business legally compliant and content filtered? Should it be? Let us know.

Congratulations to our winner

A big congratulations to Mr Jonathan K at Southwest Convenience Stores,  who has received the Apple iPad Air prize.  We would like to thank everyone who completed the survey and provided us with some valuable insights.