Feature Article

August 21, 2012

'Untethered' Access More Prevalent than 'Mobile'

A new study conducted by Cisco of more than a thousand U.S. mobile users suggests the amount of Wi-Fi usage each day is so prevalent that smartphone, tablet and e-reader device usage now is more “nomadic” than mobile, more untethered than mobile, and less “on the move” than just “unplugged.”

A separate study conducted by Ipsos suggests the typical employed person, in a wide range of countries, is connected to the Internet nearly 10 hours a day, often by Wi-Fi, with mobile devices used inside the home about 2.5 hours a day as well.

All consumers use their mobile devices at home, the Cisco study found, averaging more than 2.5 hours of usage in a typical day, more than double the time that “mobile” devices are used “on the go,” which is about half an hour a day.

A quarter of consumers surveyed by Cisco “see no difference” between the mobile and Wi-Fi networks. Consumers consider Wi-Fi easier to use and more reliable than mobile.

Almost 60 percent of consumers were “somewhat” or “very” interested in a proposed offer that provides unlimited data across combined access networks for a flat monthly fee.

Separately, an Ipsos survey suggests people who work are connected to the Internet 9.8 hours a day, on average. The multinational study surveyed users in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa ,South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United States and Hong Kong. Detailed tables are here.

The survey conducted by Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) found that mobile users are connecting their devices predominantly using Wi-Fi. In fact, most mobile users are connecting their devices using Wi-Fi at some point, including 70 percent of smartphone owners.

About 50 percent of tablets, laptops and e-readers are connecting exclusively through Wi-Fi. Although 30 percent of smartphone owners are connected only using the mobile network, the remaining 70 percent are supplementing mobile connectivity with Wi-Fi, according to the source.

In fact, on average, smartphone users use Wi-Fi a third of the time to connect their devices to the Internet.

With the exception of smartphones, users would prefer to connect all of their devices using Wi-Fi. More than 80 percent of tablet, laptop and e-reader owners either prefer Wi-Fi to mobile access or have no preference.

Just over half of smartphone owners would prefer to use Wi-Fi, or are ambivalent about the two access networks.

If given a choice between access networks, mobile users choose Wi-Fi over mobile across all network attributes, with the obvious exception of coverage. That leads Cisco researchers to conclude that “we may be on the verge of a ‘New Mobile’ paradigm, one in which Wi-Fi and mobile networks are seamlessly integrated and indistinguishable in the mobile user’s mind.”

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Edited by Braden Becker

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