Wi-Fi is going to grow at 44 percent, round the world but even faster in Europe, according to a study from market analysts Insight Research. Although the report extracts don’t go into detail, the company believes that Wi-Fi fits in better with European techno-society.

Apparently, Europeans will use Wi-Fi more because our “café culture and ubiquitous mass transit systems lend themselves to public hotspots”. That is, we can check email while waiting for a train, while US users can’t do it driving on the Inter-state. Other factors include our older buildings, which are harder to wire, and the fact that we live closer together - so more of us are in walking distance of a given hotspot.

Insight also throws in some factors that are usually counted as barriers to Wi-Fi adoption. Europe’s adoption of PCs lags behind the US. Insight believes this puts us at a stage of the upgrade cycle where we will all get built-in Wi-Fi, without having to upgrade existing systems. Conversely, others might think that it shows we are further off replacement than our US colleagues.

Even our use of GSM, often seen as a reason why we can live without Wi-Fi, is seen as a market driver by Insight: “Europe has an established highly mobile communication-oriented population,” says the report.

The study, Wi-Fi in North America and Europe: Telecommunications Future 2003-2008 estimates a five-year spend of $163 billion on products and services worldwide. Much of that will be in homes and small offices, where “Wi-Fi and broadband... drive each other in a complementary way”, says Robert Rosenberg, President of Insight Research. “There is little use to having a 10Mbit/s wireless network, inside a home or small office, hooked up to a 56 Kbit/s modem connection, especially with several computers trying to share it.”

Earlier work from Pyramid Research suggested that Wi-Fi take-up would eclipse broadband though broadband revenues will still be higher. At the ITU’s Telecom show in Geneva, executives from mobile phone providers said Wi-Fi would have little impact on their business.