Most observers would now agree that Wi-Fi offload plays a significant role in supporting mobile device Internet access. The only real issue is the extent of the reliance. According to Juniper Research, phone data is delivered to phones using the mobile network 65 percent of the time.
Most assume that is true in developed markets where fixed access infrastructure is well developed, with more questions about the value or possibility of Wi-Fi offload in developing regions.
Wi-Fi offload might be important even there. Vodafone is using the technique in India, and other Indian mobile operators seem to be looking at doing so as well. Other carriers in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and Indonesia, also are doing so.
Wi-Fi networks deliver about 35 percent of phone data.
Other estimates of Wi-Fi offload traffic suggest might be higher than 35 percent.
That might suggest Wi-Fi cannot be a full substitute for the mobile network, though it can be an important method for reducing the overall cost of operating a mobile access network, especially by reducing capital investment to increase capacity.
That undoubtedly will be even more true as methods for ensuring carrier-grade access on Wi-Fi networks becomes commercially available.
Mobile Internet access traffic offloaded from mobile networks to Wi-Fi represented 45 percent of total mobile Internet traffic in 2013, and will grow to 52 percent of total mobile Internet access traffic by 2018, according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index.
Likewise, the amount of traffic offloaded from smartphones will be 51 percent by 2018, and the amount of traffic offloaded from tablets will be 69 percent by 2018.