Boasting about the number of hotspots a company owns has become a vital benchmark in this expanding market. However it seems that such figures are not always what they seem.

Wireless aggregator GoRemote, formerly known as GRIC, has been accused of issuing a hotspot directory that is "deliberately misleading", counting many locations twice in an attempt to catch up with market leader iPass. In one case, a single hotel appears 37 times in the GoRemote listings, according to a report on Wi-Fi Networking News.

"GRIC [GoRemote] doesn't appear to be differentiating in their marketing between the necessary additional entries required for roaming across a venue and the unique number of locations that a purchasing decision might be made on," said Glenn Fleishman of WFNN. Overlaps were also found in iPass's directory, but that problem appears to be smaller and the company has defended its position (see our feature.

iPass says it has almost 10,000 hotspots, while GoRemote claims 7,800. The more-recently founded Boingo has 3,300. However Fleishman casts doubts on the GoRemote figures, as the company appears to count every single access point at a given location as a separate hotspot. For instance, the Warwick Hotel in New York, which offers Wi-Fi in its rooms, counts as 37 locations, and GoRemote counts Seattle-Tacoma airport as 26 locations (examples picked by Fleishman). The company has not commented to Techworld or WFNN.

iPass is not immune to the problem, with a two or three percent inflation. This is due mostly to inconsistencies in the data provided by its provider partners, according to John Sidline, iPass's director of corporate communications. He admits to counting airports several times (iPass lists four locations at Seattle), but says this is necessary, so users can find out which terminal or lounge provides access.

"We take a great deal of pride that we are building the world's largest WiFi network, and that we are accurately communicating our strengths to prospects," said Sidline. "It is frustrating when we come up against a competitor that goes out of its way to mislead."