Wi-Fi networks are expected to carry almost 60% of smartphone and tablet data traffic by 2019, according to new research by Juniper Research. This represents an almost four-fold increase from under 30,000PB (Petabytes) this year to over 115,000PB, the equivalent of six billion Blu-ray movies, in 2019.
The new 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 mobile operators of effective deployment and 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,” noted 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 it expects this to more than double this year to nearly 90 million.
Other global mobile data traffic highlights contained in the report, Mobile Data Offload & Onload: Wi-Fi, Small Cell & Network Strategies 2015-2019, include:
• Global mobile data traffic generated from devices including smartphones, feature phones 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.
• 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 five 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.
The whitepaper, Wi-Fi Calling Operators is available to download from the Juniper Research website together with further details of the new research and interactive dataset.