LTE Customers Consume More Data, Still Rely Primarily on Wi-Fi
Observers generally expect that mobile users of Internet access will consume more data on a 4G Long Term Evolution network, compared to a 3G network, and that appears to be the case.
A 2014 Mobidia study found that LTE subscribers consume more data than do customers on 3G networks, but also that Wi-Fi continues to be the primary way most LTE users consume Internet data.
LTE subscribers in Hong Kong, for example, averaged almost 100 percent more data consumption than 3G subscribers in the first four months of 2014.
Other findings from the study are that LTE subscribers in Japan, South Korea and the United States lead the major markets in monthly data usage per subscriber. Subscribers in Japan averaged close to 3GB per month of usage in 2014.
Subscribers in South Korea, meanwhile, averaged over 12GB of mobile data consumed per month when accounting for both cellular and WiFi usage. Subscribers in Japan and Russia averaged slightly less than 10GB of data consumption.
The Mobidia study of Android smartphone and tablet users during the first four months of 2014 in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Russia, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States
The other issue of interest to mobile service providers is whether LTE access habits also change the way customers use Wi-Fi hotspots, compared to mobile access.
Up to this point, Wi-Fi has been the connectivity of choice among LTE subscribers. According to an earlier study by Mobidia, Wi-Fi accounted for 75 percent to 90 percent of all mobile data consumed in “leading LTE markets” including Canada, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Across the six markets, average monthly Wi-Fi traffic jumped 36 percent in the eight months between August and March 2013, compared with a one percent increase for mobile access. On average, across the six markets, Wi-Fi accounted for 73 percent of total traffic on Android smartphones in April 2013, up from 67 percent in August 2012.
There is some evidence that faster Long Term Evolution network speeds do convince some users to rely less on Wi-Fi.
Although Wi-Fi accounts for the majority of traffic on both 3G and 4G networks, in August 2012 Wi-Fi took a significantly greater share of traffic on 3G devices than it did on 4G devices, accounting for 69 percent of usage on 3G networks and 60 percent of total traffic on 4G networks.
Mobidia’s findings, on the other hand, contradict findings of survey conducted by EE last year, which suggested LTE availability actually leads users to reduce reliance on Wi-Fi access. The UK’s largest mobile operator said 43 percent of its LTE subscribers are using fewer or no public Wi-Fi hotspots since adopting 4G. EE also found that more and more LTE users were cutting their Wi-Fi usage.