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Wi-Fi To Carry 60% Of Mobile Data By 2019

Hampshire, U.K. —Wi-Fi networks will carry almost 60 percent of global smartphone and tablet data traffic in the next four years.

The forecast, from Juniper Research, suggests that mobile Wi-Fi data traffic will increase four-fold, from the current 30,000PB (petabytes) to over 115,000PB by 2019.

Juniper found that mobile data offload (data migration from a mobile network to a Wi-Fi network) offers several key benefits to industry stakeholders. Offload not only addresses the issue of patchy coverage, but also has the potential for the creation of new services such as VoWi-Fi (voice-over-Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi calling), and to increase the usage of existing 3G/4G services.

However, the research cautioned that Wi-Fi offload also presents such challenges to carriers as effective deployment and ROI (return on investment).

“[Mobile] operators need to deploy their own Wi-Fi zones in problematic areas or partner with Wi-Fi hotspot operators and aggregators such as iPass and Boingo,” noted the report’s author, Nitin Bhas.

To that end, carriers are also converting residential customers to community hotspot providers, especially in the U.S. According to Wi-Fi service provider iPass, there were nearly 40 million community hotspots in 2014 and the company expects the number to more than double this year to nearly 90 million locations.

The study, “Mobile Data Offload and Onload: Wi-Fi, Small Cell and Network Strategies 2015-2019,” also forecast that:

  • * global mobile data traffic generated from devices including smartphones, feature phones and tablets will exceed 197,000PB in 2019;
  • * global data consumption smartphone through smartphones will be nearly twice that of tablet traffic this year;
  • * developing markets such as the Indian subcontinent will see higher growth rates and increased market share of the total mobile data traffic over the next five years, with carriers in India already witnessing close to 100-percent y-o-y growth in data usage, and;
  • * North America and Western Europe will together account for over 50 percent of the global mobile data being offloaded in 2019.

A whitepaper, “Wi-Fi Calling Operators,” is available for download from Juniper, along with additional details of the new research and an interactive dataset.

Juniper provides research and analytical services to the global hi-tech communications sector, including consultancy services, analyst reports and industry commentary