New research that provides important and compelling insights into worldwide Wi-Fi usage by smartphone users, showing that WiFi traffic outpaces cellular, accounting for 70 percent of all traffic.

For the first time, Mobidia is providing mobile operators and the wider mobile industry ecosystem with an understanding of consumer behavior surrounding data usage on all the networks to which smartphones frequently connect, including mobile home networks, roaming networks and Wi-Fi networks.

By looking at this behavior, Mobidia and Informa have been able to draw the following conclusions among others:

  • Total data usage on smartphones is much higher than generally reported throughout the industry. In fact, the conclusions show that Wi-Fi data consumptions exceeds cellular by a factor of two-to-one and that Wi-Fi accounted for 70 percent of all smartphone-originated traffic within the sampled user base.
  • Across the global smartphone user base sampled, 91 percent of smartphone subscribers use Wi-Fi for data usage purposes.
  • It is clear that, for an overwhelming majority of smartphone users, Wi-Fi is employed as the primary data connection of choice.

“We were quite surprised with the findings,” said Mobidia Vice President of Marketing Chris Hill.

“Not only did we find that data usage on smartphones was much higher than the typical 100-500 megabytes average monthly usage that is often cited, but we also found that Wi-Fi usage often outpaced mobile usage by as much as six-to-one in some countries.”

Mobidia’s data makes it clear that measurement of cellular-only usage patterns is only part of the picture when it comes to how consumers are using data. In fact, Informa’s analysis reveals that a cellular-only measurement of user demand can understate smartphone-originated traffic by a factor of several multiples in the world’s most advanced Wi-Fi markets.

“Building small-screen access revenues into a $100 billion annual market is already a considerable achievement, but today’s mobile data market is arguably still in the early stages of development,” said Thomas Wehmeier, Informa principal analyst.

“Indeed, mobile data pricing models prevalent in the market today lag years behind the advanced segmentation seen in the mobile voice market.”

He added, “Fulfilling the industry’s future growth potential by driving smartphone and data adoption into today’s untapped customer segments will require operators to build an in-depth understanding of all aspects of customer behavior in order to deploy sustainable and profitable pricing models. And Mobidia’s solution can provide the information to help enlighten that understanding.”

Informa and Mobidia collaborated to analyze data collected in January 2012 from tens of thousands of global smartphone users to determine data-usage trends. This data was collected on a strictly anonymous and opt-in basis from a sample of the more than 600,000 people who have downloaded Mobidia’s smartphone application, My Data Manager. The data sample represents smartphone users from more than 600 mobile operators worldwide.

Informa’s findings and conclusions based on Mobidia’s data are fully outlined in a whitepaper titled “Understanding today’s smartphone user: Demystifying data usage trends on cellular & Wi-Fi networks.”

In addition to Wi-Fi usage data, the whitepaper also provides interesting insights into time-of-day usage patterns, top app usage, and the frequency of SIM swapping across different networks and geographies.

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