JiWire, an advertising company that focuses marketing specifically through Wi-fi networks, recently released a report with some interesting numbers. They say 55.1% of public Wi-fi locations available are free, outnumbering paid Wi-fi hotspots in the US for the first time.

While Starbucks and McDonalds have provided free access for a while now, this growth may be due to retailers now also offering free internet (one recent example being Sam’s Club).

Free Wi-fi More Available Than Paid Hotspots

JiWire’s Insights report for 2010’s second quarter show that a growth of free Wi-fi spots isn’t only happening in the US. Seven of the top 10 countries worldwide (ranked by the number of public hotspots) have even added more locations recently, with France taking the lead in this growth.

France took the UK’s number three ranking this last quarter by boosting its total number of publicly available internet access points by 12.8%.

The data collected by JiWire suggests that approximately 1 in 4 Wi-fi networks around the world is now free. (That’s a leap of 20% from just a year ago.) This seems to be a trend that could continue to grow further still.

It also poses the question: Is 3G data connectivity needed anymore? Seeing as a lot of mobile internet usage is done in an eating, drinking or sitting area (where free internet is easily available), is this slowly becoming an end to sales of Mi-fi and other mobile internet solutions?

And what about the iPad 3G? Will this sway users to go for a less expensive Wifi-only model? If you have either one, let us know if you’re regretful or satisfied with your purchase and its connectivity options.

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