Could 2013 be a year to remember for Wi-Fi?

Could 2013 be a year to remember for Wi-Fi?

With Ofcom's 4G auction just around the corner, many businesses are looking forward to the ability to connect to superfast mobile broadband.

It is expected to improve conditions and speeds for those using mobile devices for work-related purposes, but one technology expert has argued that the next 12 months could be dominated by the growth and importance of wireless networks.

Christopher Williams, technology correspondent at The Telegraph, cited a study by BskyB Wi-Fi operator The Cloud, which indicated that public hotspots have rapidly become an important way to get online, particularly for professionals on the move, who require access to these networks in order to do their job on the move and avoid huge data bills.

Growth was rapid in 2012, with The Cloud hotspots around the UK experiencing Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day usage figures three times higher than the same days in 2011.

In the last 12 months, the London Underground launched a Wi-Fi system for commuters, as well as some Overground stations. Westminster council also did a deal with O2 to add wireless connectivity to the West End, and Transport for London approved a plan to offer free Wi-Fi in exchange for viewing advertisements in black cabs.

The rapid uptake of smartphones and tablets in the UK has contributed massively to the growth of Wi-Fi hotspots, with businesspeople and members of the public alike using the networks on the move. Often wireless offers a faster and more reliable connection, and for many, Wi-Fi is the only way they can access the internet through their tablet.

A growth in Wi-Fi users and reliance on the service makes the 4G auction even more interesting, with a host of mobile operators, including Vodafone and O2, set to begin providing the technology in the first half of the year.

During 2013, it's likely that 4G coverage will not spread far beyond major cities, indicating how important Wi-Fi could be for some professionals that may work away from major hubs.