Does LTE Decrease Use of Wi-Fi Offload?
Recent surveys have reached different conclusions about how Wi-Fi offload affects, and is affected by, Long Term Evolution mobile access.
A Devicescape analysis suggests that Wi-Fi Wi-Fi usage doubles for consumers on 4G networks at a similar rate to how their mobile data usage increases. In other words, consumers increase mobile and offload consumption in proportion to their current behaviors.
In contrast, a recent survey by EE of its UK subscribers that found a significant proportion of its LTE customers are using fewer or no public Wi-Fi hotspots, defaulting instead to the LTE connection most of the time.
The EE survey found 43 percent of LTE network customers were using fewer or no public Wi-Fi hotspots since moving to 4G. In addition, almost 50 percent indicated their mobile browsing time had increased since getting the faster connection.
The Devicescape survey found that average monthly Wi-Fi usage among LTE users increased from 1GB to 2GB. Data usage on the cellular network grew from 0.7GB to 1.5GB when users upgraded from 3G to 4G, it said.
But previous Mobidia research has shown that smartphone users rely on Wi-Fi for their
primary data connection, with Wi-Fi data consumption two to 10 times that of cellular data
Mobidia’s data on global Wi-Fi usage in January 2013 found that smartphone users continue to rely on Wi-Fi as their primary connection.
With very few exceptions, such as Japan, users in most developed countries consume well over 80 percent, and often over 90 percent, of their total mobile data on Wi-Fi networks, especially home connections.
Managed public hotspots also consistently accounted for very little traffic across all countries analyzed. For example, traffic on these hotspots was just three percent and two percent of all Wi-Fi traffic in the leading Wi-Fi markets - the U.S. and the U.K., respectively, Mobidia found.
But behavior might be different on LTE networks. Mobidia also found, early in 2013. In virtually all markets studied, Wi-Fi usage decreased when users switched to 4G LTE networks.
That suggests behavior could change, as more users are served by LTE networks.