Rating: Are differences down to Wi-fi hotspots; 4G or tariffs?
Leading mobile stats gatherer, comScore, has just released the results of its analysis of usage of Wi-fi versus mobile data. It covers smartphone running the two leading mobile OS – iOS and Android for users in the UK and the USA. Now this kind of information is extremely useful for individual mobile network operators. However, GoMobile News wouldn’t necessarily interpret it in the same way that comScore obviously does. We’d argued that a higher incidence of smartphones using Wi-fi represents a possible loss of income for operators because the browsing isn’t channel through their own data network. comScore also doesn’t equate higher Wi-fi usage with dissatisfaction with an operator’s mobile data network. Overall, a significantly higher percentage of iPhones rather than Android phones connect to the Internet via Wi-fi.Serge Matta, comScore’s president for operator and mobile solutions argues, “With the rise in adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices, network operators have seen a surge in mobile web activity and face new challenges in keeping up with data demands while maintaining their quality of service.”
We’d certainly agree with that. Serge goes onto suggest, “As bandwidth usage increases and the spectrum becomes more scarce, operators, OEMs, and others in the mobile ecosystem should understand the different dynamics between the use of mobile and Wi-fi networks.”
“[They should] develop strategies to optimize resources and provide their customers with continued high-quality network service,” Serge continued.
Now here’s the controversial bit. According to comScore the increased availability of LTE, 4G and other high-speed data networks currently make it less necessary for smartphone users to offload to Wi-fi.
Which suggests that those with strong 4G networks see less offloading to Wi-fi.
True, the percentage of those only using the mobile data network is highest for Sprint with 71 per cent but both T-Mobile and Verizon are joint second with 68 per cent while AT&T languishes with just 42 per cent.
comScore then attributes this to AT&T having both a greater iPhone market share and the largest Wi-fi hotspot network in America. But it also implies that AT&T’s 4G offering is greatly inferior, doesn’t it?
If you look at the UK, the network with the highest number of smartphone users who only use the data network is 3 UK followed by T-Mobile.
If you follow comScore’s arguments for the USA, then Orange (24 per cent) and Vodafone (25 per cent) should have the best Wi-fi hotspot networks compared to 02 (Telefonica) with 28 per cent.
Is that true or does it have to do with tariffs available from Orange which incorporate free Wi-fi in tariffs aimed at iPhone owners, for example?
GoMobile News would argue that the Brits are simply just more aware of using horses for courses.
69 per cent of total unique smartphones in the UK browsed the Internet via both mobile and Wi-fi network connections, compared to just 38 per cent for our American cousins.
Look at the chart kindly supplied by comScore (below) and see what you think.
Mobile and Wi-Fi Internet connection activity across carriers - United States and United Kingdom [Feb 2012]
% of smartphones that browse only via mobile networks
% of smartphones that browse via both mobile and Wi-fi networks
AT&T 42% 58%
Verizon 68% 32%
T-Mobile (US) 68% 32%
Sprint 71% 29%
Total US 62% 38%
Vodafone 25% 75%
T-Mobile (UK) 44% 56%
Three 46% 54%
Telefonica 28% 72%
Orange 24% 76%
Total UK 31% 69%
Source: comScore Device Essentials