Mobile operators may be arch enemies most of the time, but if there is one thing that brings them together onto the same side it is the threat of Wi-Fi.
When a user chooses to leap onto a wireless connection rather than use the mobile network, it means the operator is losing money and as free Wi-Fi becomes more and more ubiquitous, the threat to their revenues is growing.
However, EE recently claimed 4G has been bringing the punters back to the mobile network. The firm’s Mobile Living Index, published in August, claimed 43% of customers were using fewer or no public Wi-Fi hotspots since moving to 4G, as well as almost 50% saying their browsing time had increased since getting the faster connection.
This could lead mobile operators to believe their 4G networks could be the weapon to win the war against Wi-Fi operators.
Yet those in the Wi-Fi business today bit back with their own survey.
Devicescape – a US firm which develops software enabling devices to connect wirelessly – claimed after a six month study taking in the usage of millions of Android users that either have its Curator Client, deployed by mobile operators, or DataSaver App, the picture was very different.
Whilst it was clear 4G led to an increase in mobile data usage, Wi-Fi usage had grown as well as a faster rate, almost doubling in comparison to those on 3G networks.
It is hard to know who to believe, with both sides having a motivation to shout about one type of connectivity over the other, so I am going to go with personal experience.
In the short time I had with a 4G phone, I definitely found myself using more data. However, I was much more careful about what I used it for and keeping track of it, unlike with 3G where I pay little attention to my data limit.
This more anxious attitude meant I was on the hunt for Wi-Fi hotspots a lot more as I wanted to conserve my uber fast 4G connections for when I really needed it, namely to keep me awake on the night bus home after a few too many vinos in Camden.
So, I think EE may be kidding itself a little if it thinks users are going to shun free Wi-Fi networks to exclusively stick with their pricier mobile data. When the limits go up and the prices come down, things may be different, but for now, I will still be keeping my eye out for that happiest of finds – free Wi-Fi connections.