Consumers regularly use WiFi outside of their home as an alternative to their mobile data network. Carriers are seriously looking at WiFi Offload as a way to provide these consumers with the fast, reliable wireless data they require, while at the same time relieve some of the congestion on the operators’ 3G/4G mobile data networks.
iGR’s new study asked consumers how the WiFi networks that they use outside their home could improve, and the answer was clear: over 60 percent responded “speed.”
A consumer chooses a WiFi connection instead of a mobile broadband connection because he may be looking for a faster connection, better coverage or is trying to avoid hitting his monthly mobile data plan allowance.
More extensive carrier driven offload coming
Today, this user-driven form of WiFi Offload is the most predominant. iGR expects the other type of WiFi Offload — carrier-driven — to be used more extensively by the carriers in the future.
Carrier-driven offload involves the mobile operator actively switching 3G/4G traffic to a WiFi network. Today, the necessary technology in the network and handsets is just starting to emerge. By 2016, iGR expects it to be far more prevalent.
iGR’s new report forecasts the amount of data traffic offloaded from 3G/4G mobile broadband networks to WiFi in two categories of WiFi usage: WiFi Only and WiFi Offload.
WiFi Only includes connections from devices such as tablets, laptops, ereaders, and handheld gaming consoles that do not have a 3G/4G modem and can therefore only connect over WiFi.
WiFi Offload includes traffic that would flow over 3G/4G normally, but instead goes over WiFi by end user and/or carrier selection. iGR forecast a 73 percent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in WiFi Offload from 2011 to 2016.
“The key benefits of WiFi Offload involve relieving congestion on licensed spectrum and improving the user’s data experience,” said Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR, a market research consultancy focused on the wireless and mobile industry.
“Although WiFi Offload is not extensively used by subscribers today, our new study shows strong growth in WiFi Offload in the next four years. And if the WiFi providers can deliver faster speeds which many consumers desire, the growth could be even stronger than expected.”
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