Feature Article

August 01, 2012

Why Wi-Fi is so Important for 4G Users and Service Providers

Analytically, it is virtually impossible to determine whether much-faster mobile networks encourage users to consume more data, or whether users need to consume more data, faster, which leads them to buy faster mobile services. What is clear is that, when given a choice of using a faster mobile network, users do consume more data.

That is one reason Google has such a fundamental interest in promoting faster deployment of higher-speed access services of all types, such as the 1-Gbps symmetrical fixed network access Google Fiber is getting ready to deploy in Kansas Ctiy, Mo. and Kansas City, Kan.

Simply, speed means more ad inventory gets viewed. Google’s research shows that if search results are slowed by even a fraction of a second, people search less (A 400 millisecond delay leads to a 0.44 percent drop in search volume).

And this impatience isn’t just limited to search: Four out of five Internet users will click away if a video stalls while loading. The average web page takes 4.9 seconds to load, and in a world where fractions of a second count, that’s an eternity, Google has argued.

Long Term Evolution fourth generation mobile networks and devices are stimulating increased data usage that in some cases represent up to 50 percent more data consumption, a new study sponsored by Mobidia Technology, and conducted by Informa Telecoms & Media, suggests.

But most of that increased consumption might still be coming from use of Wi-Fi networks. Wi-Fi usage is surprisingly consistent across users with varying cellular data plans, even those with smaller plans sized below 500 MBytes, the study finds.

Similar to previous findings using Android-only data, Apple iPhone users in most countries rely on Wi-Fi networks as their primary network connection. In countries such as Germany, Wi-Fi usage can be as much as 10 times that of cellular data usage.

Apple iPhone users consume more data than Android users in most developed countries. Android users often use more cellular data, but when including Wi-Fi and cellular data, iPhone users average 37 percent more data per month than Android, the study found. 

The importance of Wi-Fi offload for service providers and end users therefore is rather clear. The ability to use Wi-Fi allows users to manage their mobile broadband costs, while offload also allows service providers to manage the heavier load on their access networks. 

A decade and a half ago, one could have gotten a reasonable argument about the business model for public Wi-Fi hotspots. Some might even have argued that public Wi-Fi could compete with mobile services. Since that time, it has become clearer that the public Wi-Fi hotspot business model largely is indirect.

For the most part, large public Wi-Fi hotspots now are amenities for buyers of fixed broadband or mobile broadband access services, while also providing key service provider operating advantages, such as the avoidance of capital investment and better ability to manage congestion. 

So even as new and faster 4G Long Term Evolution networks are built, public and private Wi-Fi access will remain vital, for both end users and service providers.

Want to learn more about today’s powerful mobile Internet ecosystem? Then be sure to attend the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5 2012, in Austin, TX. Co-sponsored by TMC Partner Crossfire Media the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo provides unmatched networking opportunities and a robust conference program representing the mobile ecosystem. The conference not only brings together the best and brightest in the wireless industry, it actually spans the communications and technology industry. For more information on registering for the Mobility Tech Conference & Expo click here.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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