A few days ago, I questioned the Wall Street Journal's statement about 28,000 daily unique users on Philadelphia's network: The Phila. network, operated by NAC, covers more than 75 sq mi of the city, but the Journal said that the areas available for free usage were only the parks. I couldn't reconcile how 28,000 unique people (or devices) were using the network in public areas (parks?) each day.
Turns out the Journal was conflating "public areas" with public access. The Wi-Fi service is available throughout the city, in the same way it was under EarthLink's operation, which means that many people are using it from their homes or businesses. Still, it's a relatively remarkable number.
The folks behind the network said that weekdays see 25,000 to 28,000 unique users based on MAC addresses, which are reasonably good gauges for unique users. Someone with a laptop and an iPhone would be counted twice, of course, but the overall contraction from unique devices to people is probably less than 10 percent. Monthly uniques by MAC are 125,000 (November).
One of the principals behind the current network's owner also noted that 40 percent of network use is from Apple gear, including the iPhone, iPod touch, and computers; PC systems represent 30 percent.
I keep trying to pin down which network has the most usage in the world, and Philadelphia is the likely winner, with San Francisco's Meraki network as No. 2, and Minneapolis (with a claimed 10,000+ subscribers) at No. 3.