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U.S. WiFi Offload Traffic Forecast, 2011 - 2016: Relief for Mobile Data Networks?

Once the red‐headed stepchild of cellular data networks, WiFi has emerged as a legitimate “other network” option for mobile operators. Granted, subscribers have to be within about 300 feet of a WiFi hotspot, or within a metro WiFi hotzone, but carriers are looking hard at WiFi Offload as a way to not only provide their customers with high‐quality, reliable wireless data, but also to relieve some of the congestion on their 3G mobile data networks.

This report forecasts the amount of data traffic offloaded from 3G/4G mobile broadband networks to WiFi in the following two categories of WiFi usage:

  • WiFi Offload: Traffic that would flow over 3G/4G, but instead goes over WiFi (by end user and/or carrier selection). This is WiFi that is used when the user is not at home, work or school (public / private).
  • WiFi Only: Connections that are WiFi only. These are devices (tablets, laptops, ereaders, handheld gaming consoles, etc.) that do not have a 3G/4G modem and can therefore only connect over WiFi. If it’s a smartphone using WiFi, then it is WiFi offload. If it is a LTE‐enabled tablet using WiFi, then it’s WiFi offload. If it’s a tablet with only WiFi, then it falls into the WiFi only category. Again, this category only deals with the use of WiFi outside the home, but not at school or at work.

Key Questions Answered

  • What is WiFi?
  • Where is the WiFi standard headed?
  • How is WiFi used?
  • What is WiFi offload?
  • What is the difference between user-driven WiFi offload and carrier-­driven WiFi offload?
  • What are some of the key standards efforts associated with WiFi offload?
  • What the potential benefits associated with WiFi offload?
  • What are the potential issues associated with WiFi offload?
  • What is WiFi only? How is it commonly used?
  • How much WiFi offload traffic is expected through 2016?
  • How much WiFi only traffic is expected through 2016?
  • How do the two different types of WiFi data traffic inter-­‐relate?

Who Should Read

  • Mobile operators, including those with WiFi networks
  • Device OEMs
  • Content providers and distributors
  • Cable MSOs and those offering WiFi services
  • Financial analysts and investors.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
  • Methodology
  • What is WiFi?
    • Types of WiFi Networks
    • WiFi Business Models
  • How is WiFi Used?
  • Why use WiFi offload?
    • Why offload?
    • Enabling WiFi Offload
      • Passpoint
      • ANDSF
      • Partnerships
    • Summary of Offload Types
    • Benefits of WiFi Offload
    • Potential Issues with WiFi Offload
  • WiFi Traffic Forecast
    • WiFi Offload Traffic Forecast
    • WiFi Only
  • Combining the Forecasts
  • Summary
  • Appendix: Consumer Demographics
    • Demographic Profile of U.S. Consumer Respondents
  • Definitions
    • General
    • Device Types
    • Services
    • Network Technology
  • About iGR
    • Disclaimer

List of Tables

  • Table 1: Type of Household Internet Service
  • Table 2: Presence of WiFi in the Home
  • Table 3: Need for Speed
  • Table 4: Improving Non‐Home/work/school WiFi Networks
  • Table 5: Devices Commonly Connected to Home WiFi Network
  • Table 6: How do you use your wired broadband connection?
  • Table 7: What Do You Do While On‐the‐Go?
  • Table 8: Difference in Activities – Wired versus On‐the‐Go
  • Table 9: How Respondents Connect While On‐the‐Go
  • Table 10: How do you connect while on‐the‐go? (indexed)
  • Table 11: Mobile Connections per Category
  • Table 12: WiFi Offload Connections per Category
  • Table 13: Data Use per Offload Connection, GB/Month
  • Table 14: Total Amount of Data Offloaded to WiFi per Category, GB / Month
  • Table 15: Number of WiFi Only Connections
  • Table 16: WiFi Only Data Use by Category, GB / Month
  • Table 17: Total WiFi Only Data Use by Category, GB/Month
  • Table 18: Combined View of WiFi Data Usage GB/Month
  • Table A‐1: Respondent Age
  • Table A‐2: Respondent Gender
  • Table A‐3: Respondent Ethnic Background
  • Table A‐4: Respondent Annual Household Income
  • Table A‐5: Respondent Level of Education
  • Table A‐6: Age of Children in Household
  • Table A‐7: Respondent Region
  • Table A‐8: Respondent Marital Status

List of Charts and Figures

  • Figure A: WiFi Data Use in Context
  • Figure B: Different Growth Rates – WiFi Offload vs. WiFi Only
  • Figure 1: Type of Household Internet Service
  • Figure 2: Presence of WiFi in the Home
  • Figure 3: Need for Speed
  • Figure 4: Improving Non‐Home/work/school WiFi Networks
  • Figure 5: Devices Commonly Connected to Home WiFi Network
  • Figure 6: How do you use your wired broadband connection?
  • Figure 7: What Do You Do While On‐the‐Go
  • Figure 8: Difference in Activities – Wired versus On‐the‐Go
  • Figure 9: How Respondents Connect While On‐the‐Go
  • Figure 10: Mobile Connections per Category
  • Figure 11: WiFi Offload Connections per Category
  • Figure 12: Data Use per Offload Connection, GB / Month
  • Figure 13: Total Amount of Data Offloaded to WiFi per Category, GB / Month
  • Figure 14: Number of WiFi Only Connections
  • Figure 15: WiFi Only Data Use by Category, GB/Month
  • Figure 16: Total WiFi Only Data Use by Category, GB / Month
  • Figure 17: Total WiFi Only Data Use by Category, GB/Month
  • Figure 18: Combined View of WiFi Data Usage GB/Month
  • Figure 19: Different Growth Curves of WiFi Data Usage GB/Month
  • Figure A‐1: Respondent Age
  • Figure A‐2: Respondent Gender
  • Figure A‐3: Respondent Ethnic Background
  • Figure A‐4: Respondent Annual Household Income
  • Figure A‐5: Respondent Level of Education
  • Figure A‐6: Age of Children in Household
  • Figure A‐7: Respondent Region
  • Figure A‐8: Respondent Marital Status

For additional information on the U.S. WiFi Offload Traffic Forecast, 2011 - 2016: Relief for Mobile Data Networks? market research report, please contact Iain Gillott, at (512) 263-5682 or by email.

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