Wi-Fi is Primary Way to Connect to Internet in 16 of 20 Countries

Wi-Fi has become an accepted part of the mobile carrier network, and is likely to become more important in the future, as more devices are able to connect both to Wi-Fi and carrier networks.

Nearly 66 percent of consumers in the United States report that they most often connect their smart phones to Wi-Fi networks as opposed to a mobile network when using the Internet, according to Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey.

Most people across 20 countries use four to eight devices, most of which have Wi-Fi access, and people rely on Wi-Fi to connect those devices.

Furthermore, in 16 of 20 countries surveyed, Wi-Fi is the primary method of connecting to the Internet.

Those statistics illustrate both the important role Wi-Fi access now plays in the broad “connected device” business, and also indicates the potential for mobile service providers who create attractive connection plans for their customers.

The upside for mobile service providers is the opportunity to convince people to use the mobile network, thus generating more revenue, more of the time. The larger data bundles typically sold to Long Term Evolution subscribers are a major contributing factor to higher usage and also revenue.

In South Korea, for example, some 36 percent of 4G subscribers have a data allowance of 3GB or larger, compared with only nine percent for respondents using 3G. A similar trend is seen in the United States, Japan and Singapore.

At least some consumers say  they are spend more to get faster speeds, with 41 percent of respondents indicating that they would be willing to pay more for substantially faster speeds, with nearly 10 percent willing to pay up to $30 on top of their current rates.

Consumers who use 4G still seek out Wi-Fi alternatives for two reasons, though. There are times when using Wi-Fi means a better experience. Also, Wi-Fi is viewed as a way to save money by allowing use of more-affordable mobile data plans (by an 11 percent margin over their non-4G counterparts).

Although Wi-Fi is likely to remain the dominant form of connectivity, measured both by minutes connected and bits sent and received, consumers are likely to use mobile at least some of the time to connect their devices. They are also more likely to upgrade to a larger data bundle.

The point is that most of the devices people now use are equipped for Wi-Fi access, and people will use Wi-Fi most of the time, for obvious reasons: it sometimes offers a better experience and it also does not count against a user’s data plan.

Consumers in developed markets and urban professionals in developing markets on average own or have access to between four to eight devices.

A growing proportion of those devices are connected to a mobile network; especially smartphones and tablets and to some extent laptops. The GMCS shows that ownership of Internet-connected devices increased in all countries surveyed in 2012 and 2013.

By the end of 2013, more than 2 billion smartphones, 300 million tablets and one billion portable PCs are expected to be in use globally.

One trend likely to be prevalent among smartphone and tablet owners is multiple ownership of the same type of device. Across the countries surveyed, between 12 and 29 percent of smartphone users own or have access to more than one smartphone; similarly across tablet users, between eight and 29 percent own or have access to more than one tablet.

A main driver for multiple smart phone and multi-tablet ownership is likely to be device screen size. Of those that have a medium tablet, between 13 and 38 percent also own or have access to a large size tablet.

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