Why do smartphone users prefer Wi-Fi networks over 3G/4G?
Written by Monica Ferrari
OpenSignal released a report about the amount of time smartphone users worldwide spend on Wi-Fi. Based on results, people in countries with developed mobile networks prefer Wi-Fi over 3G/4G, especially when data is expensive and limited.
As per the Global State of Mobile Networks report carried out by OpenSignal; a company that focuses on wireless coverage mapping, smartphone users in almost all developed countries spend more time on Wi-Fi networks rather than 3G/4G mobile ones. The findings refer to data points collected from 822,556 users across 95 countries. Let’s have a look at the main aspects that determine why users prefer connecting to the internet through Wi-Fi instead of using a cellular network.
Smartphone users prefer Wi-Fi than 4G. The report’s “Time on Wi-Fi” graph shows that developed mobile markets, like the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and Belgium, are at the top positions in the list meaning they are more keen to use Wi-Fi over 3G/4G. The Netherlands is at the top of this list as its users spend 70% of their time on Wi-Fi. The main reason for this is that broadband service providers in these countries are supplying millions of Wi-Fi hotspots. For instance, Ziggo, the largest cable operator in the Netherlands, provides 1.9 million Wi-Fi spots throughout the country. On the contrary, most developing markets do not always benefit from a fixed wireless broadband and in many cases, they lack Wi-Fi provisioning. This aspect explains why countries such as Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ethiopia rank at the bottom of the survey.
Mobile data prices
In countries where mobile data is expensive, the cost for GB offered in mobile plans can be higher than a broadband connection. Accordingly, users can save money taking advantage of Wi-Fi. Therefore, internet users in countries like the Netherlands and Germany spend 70% and 62%, respectively, of time on Wi-Fi, although they are provided with high speed and well-performing 3G and 4G networks.
The amount of accessible data is another relevant aspect that determines the amount of time users spend on Wi-Fi. In countries where operators have restrictive caps on mobile data and charge you extra if you exceed the monthly bandwidth cap, people take advantage of wireless networks. For instance, Canadian smartphone users spend 60% of their time on Wi-Fi and as a result, the country ranks 10th. On the contrary, countries like Finland and Switzerland which adopt unlimited data philosophies (meaning that users are free from caps) users therefore spend less time on Wi-Fi networks. In Sweden users only spend 42% of their time on Wi-Fi and the country ranks only 68th, very far from the other Nordic countries – all ranking in the first 25 positions of the list – and close instead to undeveloped countries such as Nepal and Oman.
Based on this report, it can be said that Wi-Fi seems to be a valuable choice among smartphone users at worldwide level compared to 3G and 4G, especially in countries where mobile connectivity is lacking and mobile data is overpriced and limited.
In Canada, business owners would be smart to remember that most cell plans here are not uncapped, and can be expensive for their clients, which will most likely appreciate free access to Wi-Fi.