Mobile network operators are experiencing a surge in activity as the result of rapidly growing adoption and use of smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, prompting comScore to conduct census-level research on mobile and Wi-Fi Internet usage in the US and UK. Among other findings, comScore’s analysis shows that iPhone users are more likely than Android users to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
“With the rise in adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices, network operators have seen a surge in mobile web activity and face new challenges in keeping up with data demands while maintaining their quality of service,” said Serge Matta, comScore president of Operator and Mobile Solutions. “As bandwidth usage increases and the spectrum becomes more scarce, operators, OEMs, and others in the mobile ecosystem should understand the different dynamics between the use of mobile and Wi-Fi networks to develop strategies to optimize resources and provide their customers with continued high-quality network service.”
ComScore gathered and analyzed census-level data on Wi-Fi and mobile Internet usage in the UK and US across unique smartphones and the iOS and Android mobile operating systems (OS). While 71% of all unique iPhones used both mobile and Wi-Fi networks to connect to the Internet, only 32% of unique Android mobile phones used both types of connections. Further analysis showed that this pattern showed up consistently in the UK, with 87% of unique iPhones having used both mobile and Wi-Fi networks to access the Web, compared to 57% for Android phones.
ComScore also found that 69% of total unique UK smartphones browsed the Internet via both mobile and Wi-Fi connections, compared to just 38% of unique US smartphones. US smartphones on AT&T’s mobile network were more likely to use Wi-Fi than those of other major mobile network operators, comScore found, a finding they attribute to AT&T having the largest number of iPhone subscribers and the largest Wi-Fi hotspot network in the US. In the UK, smartphones on the Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange networks were more likely to use Wi-Fi than those using other UK networks.
“The difference in mobile and Wi-Fi network usage across the US and UK suggests that there are a few factors at play affecting Wi-Fi utilization rates,” Matta added. “In the UK, the scarcity of unlimited data plans and higher incidence of smartphone pre-paid contracts with a pay-as-you-go data model likely contributes to data offloading among users wanting to economize their mobile usage.
“In addition, the current lack of high-speed data networks in the U.K. might also lead users to seek out higher bandwidth capacity on Wi-Fi networks. In the U.S., the increased availability of LTE, 4G and other high-speed data networks currently make it less necessary for smartphone users to offload, but it’s also possible that the diminishing availability of unlimited cellular data plans will eventually push more usage to Wi-Fi.”