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Survey – Public WiFi Hurt by Security Fears and Fiddly Signup Forms

Monday, Jun 2nd, 2014 (8:59 am) - Score 666

A new survey of 827 ISPreview.co.uk readers has found that 63.3% of respondents would rather use Mobile Broadband (3G / 4G) than a public WiFi hotspot (26.1%) to go online when out and about, while 10.5% said they don’t use either. Apparently the key reasons for this are due to fears over weak wifi security and the fiddly sign-up forms.

The survey also asked whether respondents would only use a public WiFi hotspot if there was a very poor or no Mobile Broadband signal, with 52.7% agreeing and 28% disagreeing. Unsurprisingly coverage was also one of the most predictable consumer complaints against public WiFi but surprisingly it’s not the biggest.


Given the choice, and assuming a good signal for both, which would you rather use when out and about (e.g. shopping, eating, hotel)?
Mobile Broadband (3G/4G) – 63.3%
Public WiFi Hotspot – 26.1%
I never use either! – 10.5%

Do you agree: I would only use a WiFi hotspot if there is a very poor or no Mobile Broadband signal?
Yes – 52.7%
No – 28%
Maybe – 19.2%

What is the biggest single problem with public wifi?
Security – 34.4%
Fiddly Signup Forms – 25.1%
Sporadic Coverage – 17%
Performance – 13.4%
Price – 7.3%
Other – 2.5%

Mobile Broadband services are improving all the time, especially since the advent of faster 4G networks, and many consumers now see related connectivity as a better and more readily available option for basic Internet access than public wifi (though we’d like to see bigger mobile data allowances from some operators).

But sometimes public wifi can be useful, such as when you want to save your mobile data allowance or due to a weak in-door signal, and in these situations consumers end up being most frustrated by security fears and those annoying registration forms (very tedious to fill-in on Smartphones). The latter is also particularly frustrating when abroad without a mobile signal because related forms often require an SMS or Email for verification.

Some security concerns can be mitigated by checking with the hotspot owner before connecting and or using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), although no public network will ever be 100% safe. As for those irritating signup forms, the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) are attempting to deploy so-called Next Generation Hotspots (NGH) that should make life easier, although we’ve yet to see those being fully rolled out.

Meanwhile this month’s new survey asks whether or not you read the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) when signing-up for a new broadband ISP? Vote Here.


By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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