Wi-Fi networks will carry almost 60% of smartphone and tablet data traffic by 2019, reaching more than 115,000PB (Petabytes) by 2019, compared to under 30,000PB this year – representing almost a four-fold increase.
New research – Mobile Data Offload & Onload: Wi-Fi, Small Cell & Network Strategies 2015-2019 – by Juniper Research 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 (Wi-Fi Calling) and to increase the usage of existing 3G/4G services.
However, the research cautioned that Wi-Fi offload brings challenges to Operators of effective deployment and ROI (return on investment). “Operators need to deploy own Wi-Fi zones in problematic areas or partner with Wi-Fi hotspot operators and aggregators such as iPass and Boingo”, added research author Nitin Bhas.
Additionally, operators are also converting residential customers to community hotspot providers, especially in the US. According to Wi-Fi service provider iPass, there were nearly 40 million community hotspots in 2014 and expects this to more than double this year to nearly 90 million.
The study also found that global mobile data traffic generated from devices including smartphones, featurephones and tablets forecast to exceed 197,000PB in 2019.
Juniper estimates global smartphone data consumption to be nearly twice the amount of tablet traffic in 2015 and developing markets such as the Indian Subcontinent are forecast to witness higher growth rates and increased market share of the total mobile data traffic over the next 5 years; with operators in India already witnessing close to 100% y-o-y growth in data usage.
North America and West Europe will together account for over 50% of the global mobile data being offloaded in 2019.