Laptops and netbooks are becoming yesterday's news, if figures from US hotspot provider AT&T are to be believed.

It reported today that 40 per cent of connections made to its Wi-Fi hotspots are now coming from smartphones, including the iPhone and BlackBerry Bold.

Wi-Fi connections at its 20,000 US hotspots have more than tripled in a year, up from 3.4 million sessions in the first quarter of 2008 to 10.5 million sessions in the first three months of 2009.

Wireless surge blamed on smartphones

That's already more than the total number of connections made during all of 2008. AT&T says, "The usage surge was driven by growth in AT&T's wired and wireless broadband customer base and the proliferation of Wi-Fi enabled devices."

AT&T also took over the Wi-Fi services in Starbuck cafés in 2008. This suggests that BT might be hoping for a similar boost following the launch of its Wi-Fi service in 650 Starbucks outlets in the UK, which was announced on Monday.

AT&T has a partnership with Sony that allows owners of the new Cyber-shot DSC-G3 Wi-Fi-enabled camera to upload images and surf the web for free, until 2012.