A new survey on the usage patterns of international mobile data users has yielded some interesting information on how traveling executives get Internet access while on the move. The survey was conducted in the months of July and August 2009 by Stroke, a provider of all-IP broadband gateways and data offload solutions, and Trustive, a provider of international Wi-Fi access.

If you recall, I spoke to Barry Hill, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of the Santa Clara-based Stoke, Inc., about the challenges faced by mobile providers in a blog post just a couple of months back.

Based on the responses from 300 professionals, the results that I think are most relevant to us as IT professionals are

  • 72 percent of respondents pay for their own Wi-Fi access; employers picked up the tab for the rest.
  • 51 percent have been unpleasantly surprised by the size of a bill upon their return.
  • 98 percent say that staying connected with business by accessing e-mail was the most important element of Wi-Fi access. On the same note, the use of VoIP and IM stands at 42 percent and 34 percent of travelers, respectively.
  • 40 percent of users say they want to be connected and available for business interaction at all times, even if only three percent of their bosses actively require them to be connected.
  • 65 percent described themselves as being “network-dependent,” in which they access the network for information as required rather than bringing it along.
  • 64 percent say they use Wi-Fi for data roaming, with 41 percent of users planning their Wi-Fi usage in advance, in terms of where and when to get access.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that PDA and wireless dongle users are “frequently frustrated by difficulties in download or viewing applications on their devices,” and hence return to wired computers at hot spots.

Personally, I have my fair share of frustrations with nonfunctioning or problematic Wi-Fi access points (AP) at hot spots. There was at least once when I requested the cafe staff to reboot their wireless router, which promptly rectified the problem. At many places, though, the Wi-Fi AP might not be owned by them or is located at a nonobvious location.

What is clear from the survey is the increasing reliance of mobile workers on wireless and mobile data, even when traveling overseas. Despite the fact that few bosses expect their employees to stay connected, most executives opt to pay for Wi-Fi access out of their own pocket. Of course, a high percentage relies on Wi-Fi for data roaming, with a sizable proportion planning their Wi-Fi usage in advance so as to minimize their costs.

I’m curious as to how the experience of TechRepublic members compares to these survey results. I’ve included two polls below:

Let us know more about your experiences in the discussion. Also, have you ever been “unpleasantly surprised” by the size of a bill upon your return?