Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Globally, LTE is Faster than Wi-Fi, Study Finds

With the caveat that Long Term Evolution speeds are directly related to the amount of bandwidth to support the network (it makes a big difference whether 10 MHz or 20 MHz or bigger channels are available), Long Term Evolution now offers faster speeds, on an average global basis, than fixed connections using Wi-Fi for local distribution, according to an analysis by OpenSignal.  

If speed is a key driver of usage, then users are going to rely more on LTE than Wi-Fi, much as they traditionally have used Wi-Fi instead of the mobile network because Wi-Fi offered a better experience.

There is some evidence of that. A study by Mobidia in 2012 suggested that South Korean users actually were reducing their Wi-Fi usage in favor of the LTE network.

But 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.

So it is not yet clear how a faster LTE network affects use of Wi-Fi.

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