Monday, November 19, 2012

UK: Usability Limits Wi-Fi Offloading, Although Operators have 3,516,000 Hot Spots

The recent Ofcom infrastructure report (here) provides some interesting information on Wi-Fi usage by fixed and mobile operators:

"Another way to manage the growing demand for mobile data is to offload the data onto a fixed network. Many mobile devices are also Wi-Fi enabled and can connect to fixed networks using Wi-Fi hotspots. Mobile data use in these devices can be offloaded onto a residential Wi-Fi network or onto public Wi-Fi hot spots".

"For this report, we gathered data from the main fixed and mobile operators, who manage around 16,000 public Wi-Fi hot spots in the UK (excluding BT Fon hotspots). BT claims to have 3.5 million hotspots [here] throughout UK and Ireland (including their Fon hotspots). There are public Wi-Fi hotspots provided by other companies, who are not fixed or mobile operators. These have not been included in our analysis" [See also "London 2012 - 500,000 spectators, 500,000 Wi-Fi HotSpots" - here].

"The data we gathered from our sample of operators on the use of public Wi-Fi hotspots shows that the volume of data through public Wi-Fi is just 3.8% of that going via mobile masts, even though hotspots are available in many areas of high footfall. A possible reason why they are not used more widely is the complexity involved in authenticating to Wi-Fi access points (i.e. the need to log in and the need to reregister with new hotspots when on the move). Lack of interoperability between different operators may also be a contributory factor. However, the majority of smart phone users do use Wi-Fi at home suggesting that customers are willing to use Wi-Fi and are aware of its benefits, which leads us to believe that there is an untapped demand for Wi-Fi hotspots".

Geographical distribution of Wi-Fi hotspots (hotspots per 1000 premises) source: Ofcom

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