According to a YouGov study, mobile subscribers would love it if their operators provided better Wi-Fi services. The study reveals that smartphone owners in the UK make heavy use of Wi-Fi, and would respond very well to improved services from their operator.
What’s the story?
YouGov is a completely web-based market research firm – it has a panel of 250,000 respondents in the UK, from a variety of demographics. For this survey, it collected data from 2,200 respondents into how smartphone owners use Wi-Fi, and what they think of it. The results should provide food-for-thought for mobile operators:
- 50% of UK smartphone owners use Wi-Fi every day – 40% of them because its faster for mobile internet access, and 50% because it is easier than using 3G
- 74% of Wi-Fi using smartphone owners would use an application that uses Wi-Fi hotspots to improve indoor 3G coverage
- 80% would be interested in a mobile operator service that offers discount calls through Wi-Fi
- 22% said the most annoying thing about Wi-Fi is that it isn’t available everywhere
What we think?
In a way, this survey doesn’t tell us very much. Of course people prefer Wi-Fi to 3G – it’s faster and cheaper. And when you’re using 3G, you’re not racking up megabytes on your data plan – which allows you to access data without fearing bill shock. But the deeper implication is that if an operator were willing to invest heavily in creating a network of Wi-Fi hotspots in certain areas, they’d be able to guarantee a loyal army of data using smartphone owners.
Two things immediately pop to mind for me here:
1) Creating a large network of Wi-Fi hotspots is expensive. The smartphone owning audience really isn’t big enough yet to justify that expense.
2) 4G is just around the corner. Data hotspots the size of an entire city will be possible with either LTE or WiMAX. For most operators, it’s better to invest in 4G than to throw a lot of money at Wi-Fi.