Businesspeople are driving the use of Wi-Fi hotspots across the world to new highs, particularly at airports and hotels, according to a recent report.

With new Wi-Fi-enabled devices hitting the market each month, including "dual-mode" cellular/Wi-Fi BlackBerry and Nokia phones, mobile workers will continue to expand their use of the wireless technology.

The Wi-Fi Hotspot Index, compiled by iPass, a provider of enterprise mobility services, is based on data collected during the first half of 2007 from more than a million Wi-Fi users at the company's 3,500 customers. iPass collected data at some 80,000 hotspots in 78 countries, tracking time spent connected; location of connection; and the top venues in which Wi-Fi connections are made.

Overall, Wi-Fi hotspot usage by business users between January and June of 2007 rose 68 percent over the last six months of 2006, and hotspot use during the first half of 2007 rocketed 141 percent in comparison to the first half 2006, according to iPass.

The countries that saw the largest boosts include Australia, which saw an increase of more than 780 percent since June 2006, and Germany, where hotspot use increased by 379 percent during the period.

"The results indicate that business demand for Wi-Fi hotspots has grown from a novelty to a mainstream need," said Joel Wachtler, iPass VP of marketing and strategy, in a press release. "We are also seeing that use of hotspots is a global phenomenon, with the standard for growth being set in European and Asian countries."

The regions of the world in which Wi-Fi hotspots are used most frequently are North America (56 percent of the total worldwide usage), Europe (36 percent), and the Asia-Pacific (six percent), according to the report.

Not surprisingly, the United States is leading in terms of hotspot use, again making up 56 percent of the worldwide total, followed by the United Kingdom (13 percent), Germany (7 percent), Switzerland (4 percent) and the Netherlands (3 percent).

Regardless of the fact that North America and the United States are the leading region and country, London is the city with the highest level of hotspot use by businesspeople, with four times as many Wi-Fi "sessions," or times people connect to networks, than New York and Chicago, the number two and three cities, respectively.

Average daily Wi-Fi usage also jumped 25 percent to 89 minutes in the first half of 2007, compared to 70 minutes in the second half of 2006.