Aussies Loving Wi-Fi, Mobile Broadband Shunned

Written by Oonagh Reidy     21/05/2014 | 11:22 | Category: WIRELESS & NETWORKING

AS Telstra announced public WiFi hotspots, consumers shun mobile broadband for WiFi and tethering.

Aussies Loving Wi-Fi, Mobile Broadband ShunnedTelco's are missing out on revenue as consumers embrace Wi-Fi and smartphone tethering, a new study by Telstye shows. 

Australia's mobile broadband market grew only 3 per cent in the past 12 months to December, as using public Wi-Fi and smartphone tethering becomes more popular - eating into 3G/4G and SIM-only devices including tablets and notebooks.

Yesterday, Telstra announced it would build more than 8000 Wi-Fi hotspots around the country to bring Wi-Fi internet to community areas and social precincts such as shopping strips, business centers and transport hubs.

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are "sprouting like mushrooms and are now widely supported by local councils, shopping centres, local businesses and increasingly our transport networks," says Telsyte Senior Analyst, Mobility, Alvin Lee. 

According to Telsyte's research, tablet usage is still mainly at home. 

It is expected smartphone tethering will continue to disrupt the mobile broadband market, the study shows. 

For some, Wi-Fi tethering with a smartphone has replaced dedicated mobile broadband services as people are becoming more comfortable with sharing the mobile Internet connection with other devices.

Smart accessories like smart watches are also designed to connect to the Internet through phone tethering.

"The opportunity for dedicated mobile broadband is diminishing even as mobile traffic continues to grow," says Lee. 

This market "disruption" will increase demand for smartphone data pack sales, however, something all the major telcos have been pushing, of late. 

With Wi-Fi enabled devices becoming ubiquitous, telcos are currently only able to monetise 20 per cent of the consumer media tablet market.

The Australian mobile services market had nearly 31 million services in operation at the end of December.

Almost one in four services are now running on high-speed 4G LTE networks. 80 per cent of businesses with 20 + employees operate Wi-Fi networks.