Is the Smartphone a mobile device or Wi-Fi device?
That question has never been more relevant and yet some people still believe that the use of Wi-Fi will go away when 5G arrives in full force.
Aptilo started in 2001 with a vision to solve two emerging problems:
- How to get indoor coverage for wireless data
- How to get enough data capacity in dense areas
It’s amazing how these two problems remain 17 years later. Back then it was GPRS. Today it is 4G and, soon enough, it will be 5G. Indoor coverage is still an issue and we can never get enough capacity.
Time on Wi-Fi
Last year OpenSignal made over 19 billion measurements on 1 million devices globally. In most developed countries, users spend more time with their mobile devices on Wi-Fi than on cellular.
Even in countries like Finland with an excellent cellular network, vast rural areas and a high share of “all you-can-eat subscriptions”, people still spend 41% of their time on Wi-Fi.
Data volume on Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi dominates even more, if we look at data consumption. Strategy Analytics continuously publishes research on data usage in the USA. Their AppOptix data from January 2018 comes from a panel of 4,000 Android phone users who agreed to let the firm monitor their data usage. The analyst found that people with capped cellular subscriptions use Wi-Fi for 85% of their data traffic needs. More interestingly, the same figure for people with unlimited cellular subscriptions was 72%.
Clearly, people with capped subscriptions are more actively seeking Wi-Fi than those with unlimited subscriptions. But, the vast majority of the data traffic on a mobile device goes over Wi-Fi even if the subscriber has an “all-you-can-eat” cellular data plan.
The business case for Wi-Fi offload
Aptilo is known as the leader in Wi-Fi offload. But, we have always disliked the term. It’s not primarily about offloading masses of data volumes to Wi-Fi. At least not in developed countries with good cellular networks. Wi-Fi offload is all about bringing a great user experience to high-density indoor locations.
We have a mobile operator customer that only offload 4% of their cellular traffic to Wi-Fi. Still 58% of their subscribers enjoy their Wi-Fi every month.
Is this small share of offload worth the effort, if we ignore happy customers with reduced churn and just focus on the fact that it is cheaper to deliver data through Wi-Fi? Yes, no question about it! It’s a volume game. Stay tuned for our upcoming article about Wi-Fi offload monetization, where we will develop this more.