London WLAN growth rockets

Number of wireless access points in the capital increased by 160 percent in the last year, driven mainly by businesses

The number of wireless access points in London has increased by 160 percent in a year, according to a survey conducted by RSA Security.

The research found that the number of access points went up from 2,747 in 2006 to 7,130 in 2007. The rise stands in contrast to an increase in the previous year of just 57 percent. The growth in London-based business access points has been even greater, at 180 percent. In contrast, the number of access points in New York increased by 49 percent in the last year.

RSA said security levels had increased worldwide, with London now leading the pack. Eighty-one percent of the city's business networks are now secured through either Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or more advanced encryption, compared with 80 percent in Paris and 76 percent in New York. 

In terms of advanced encryption — most security experts now consider WEP to be too weak — London and New York rate the highest, with almost half of all secured business networks using either 802.11i or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA).

"As we evolve toward a 'wireless everywhere' world, we are witnessing enormous leaps in wireless connectivity, as highlighted by London's explosive growth in access points over the course of the last year," said Christopher Young, vice president of consumer and access solutions at RSA. "It is encouraging that almost half of all secured business access points are now using advanced forms of encryption, and we expect to see these numbers increase as awareness grows around the perils of operating inadequately secured wireless networks."

The security firm conducted its survey using a laptop computer scanning both broadcasting and non-broadcasting access points in the 802.11a, b and g frequencies.