WiFi usage stats could offer pricing alternative for operators


And which Android devices drive the most WiFi usage?

Analysis of data usage amongst Android device users appears to show that there is still a fair amount of headroom for the use of public WiFi hotspots to reduce the load on 3G networks. They may even point to operators being able to "shape" traffic usage across WiFi, merely by ensuring devices are "WiFi aware".

WiFi connection software company WeFi has released its quarterly report on consumer Wi-Fi usage. The report presents statistics derived from WeFi users across just under 100 million hotspots  worldwide. 

One finding is that in only 15% of the cases that Android devices are connected to a hotspot does WeFi detect that there are five or more users connected to that same network.

In 37% of cases only two users per hotspot were detected – indicating the user is likely connected to a residential hotspot. In other words, WeFi concludes, there is still a lot of scope for the use of public hotspots to provide mobile data services.

That’s not to say that Android users are not out and about with their devices. 34% of users connect to 10 different networks per month, and most get connected to more than two networks in a month. Compare that to stay-at-home laptop users, where 22% of users use only one hotspot per month.

In terms of usage, 33% of Android devices use more than 100Mb per month on WiFi, while 84% of devices use less than 100Mb per month over 3G. In fact, WeiFi's stats appear to show that more than 40% of Android devices use less than 10Mb of data per month. WeFi thinks that this indicates that “a significant part of the data is being offloaded to WiFi”, albeit mainly to residential WiFi.

That leaves just 16% of Android devices (that use WeFi) using more than 100Mb a month over 3G - whereas most cellular data plans will be limited to volumes of 250Mb, 500Mb or 1Gb.

One implication could be that when users install a WiFi-aware connection manager, their cellular data usage plummets. Mobile operators could use this information to offer plans that offer lower volume data limits, but at much lower prices - given what the operators know about data usage once a customer's device is "WiFi aware".

Or, of course, operators could also keep offering headline-grabbing high volume or unlimited data tariffs at lower prices, with a pre-installed WiFi connection manager, being aware that most (WiFi aware users) will struggle to reach even a 100Mb 3G limit.

Added extra (picture and caption from WeFi) showing differences in WiFi usage between Android devices.