Thursday, June 21, 2012

What Do Consumers Want from Wi-Fi?

Until recently, most technologists and mobile industry executives viewed Wi-Fi as the “poor cousin” to licensed mobile communications. And they certainly never viewed any role for Wi-Fi in mobile networks or their business. The explosion of mobile data traffic has changed all of that. Most mobile operators now realize that offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi can, and must, play a significant role in helping them avoid clogged networks and unhappy customers. In addition, service providers (SPs) are struggling to understand new business models for making money from Wi-Fi.

In all of this strategizing about Wi-Fi, there is precious little research about how end users are actually using Wi-Fi, how they want to employ it in the future, and, more specifically, about what drives a user to connect his or her device to the Internet with Wi-Fi rather than “mobile.”

To learn more, the Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) conducted a survey of 1,079 U.S. mobile users to understand their needs and behaviors, current and future mobile usage, and level of interest in Wi-Fi and new forms of monetization. The study revealed some interesting findings, including people’s preference to connect their mobile devices using Wi-Fi, the predominance of mobile device usage in the home, and the fact that one-third of mobile users use a public hotspot at least weekly to connect their mobile devices to the Internet. The research findings are important because they allow SPs to understand the size of the opportunity, develop strategies for success, and differentiate their Wi-Fi offerings and initiatives to become more competitive.

Download the paper