Wi-Fi leads the way for UK smartphone owners

Forty-three per cent of smartphone owners see Wi-Fi as a way of avoiding breaching their monthly data allowances and 29% would like to pay a fixed amount for unlimited access to each of the internet services or apps they use the most, says a new report.

Wi-Fi has become the predominant source of data connectivity for smartphone and tablet owners, according to a new mobile consumption report, by Deloitte, the business advisory firm. 58% of smartphone users and 93% of tablet owners use Wi-Fi most for data connectivity.

Wi-Fi is regarded as faster, more reliable and more responsive by smartphone owners; 43% see Wi-Fi as a way of avoiding exceeding monthly data allowances. The main reasons why smartphone owners use the Wi-Fi network to connect to the Internet are faster speeds (52%) and reliability (46%).

UK smartphone owners differ to their counterparts in four other major markets — America, Germany, France and Japan - where cellular mobile is the principal source of connectivity for smartphones.

Wi-Fi is used most at home, but half of tablet and smartphone owners also use Wi-Fi hot spots when out and about. Deloitte estimates that there are now several thousand hot spots in London, and further thousands of hot spots made available to guests of offices, hotels and other venues. The greater the density of Wi-Fi hot spots, particularly in cities, the lesser the need to use cellular mobile for data – at least until LTE arrives.

David Halstead, technology, media and telecommunications partner at Deloitte in Cambridge  comments: “What people value from Wi-Fi is a blend of factors, principally faster speeds, better responsiveness, and lower cost. Smartphone and tablet owners are trading off Wi-Fi’s advantages against cellular mobile’s wider coverage. Cellular mobile offers wide access, but in city centres, or other areas with heavy footfall, people may only have to walk a few minutes to locate a Wi-Fi often move to where they can find faster connectivity.

“The popularity of Wi-Fi is leading to growing volumes of ‘Wi-Fi offloading’, where smartphone owners use Wi-Fi networks to connect to the Web rather than cellular mobile. Mobile operators should offer their customers a seamless connectivity experience including Wi-Fi hotspots that their customers can use when they are out and about.”

Other key findings:

  • Smartphone owners who use Wi-Fi to connect, use it at home (88%);
  • Half of smartphone owners use Wi-Fi to connect when they are “out and about” (50%), at someone else’s house (47%) or at work (28%);
  • 30% would prefer to pay for a fixed amount of data and then pay additional usage charges once they have reached the limit;
  • Two fifths (39%) of smartphone owners have received a higher mobile phone bill than expected;
  • A half (51%) of smartphone owners subscribe to less than 1GB of data and only a fifth (21%) of respondents subscribe to an unlimited data package.

The UK research was conducted by YouGov, based on a survey written by Deloitte, on 9-11 May 2012 with 2060 respondents.

Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2012 surveyed 27,000 consumers from 15 other countries, in May/June 2012.

About Deloitte

In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see www.deloitte.co.uk/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press. For more information, please visit www.deloitte.co.uk.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited


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