The latest research study from market strategy consultancy iGR reports that Wi-Fi devices have proliferated in the U.S. household, with 80-percent of homes using Wi-Fi to provide data connections to smartphone, tablets, laptops, televisions and gaming consoles. That said, bandwidth consumed by these local Wi-Fi devices are expected to more than double over the next four years.
As reported in U.S. Home Broadband & WiFi Usage Forecast, 2011‐2015, home network bandwidth consumed by heavy users of local Wi-Fi devices will increase from 55-percent of the total bandwidth used in 2011 to more than 75-percent in 2015. That means extreme bandwidth consumption is expected to increase from more than 390 GB per month in 2011 to nearly 440 GB per month in 2015. This is all supposedly due to a high demand for video -- both streamed and downloaded -- on Wi-Fi devices like tablets, notebooks and smartphones within the home.
"Why should the major cable providers care about how much Wi-Fi is used in the home? Because today's consumers are expecting a world in which they always have high-speed data access to anything they want and the cable MSOs have been the principal providers of home video and broadband data services for more than a decade," said Matt Vartabedian, iGR's vice president of the wireless and mobile research service. "Internet and data access is inextricably woven into the personal, social and business fabric of today's life. And Wi-Fi is setting expectations by which consumers will judge the performance of 4G, HSPA+ and LTE networks, devices and services."
The report said that broadband providers like Time-Warner and Comcast should embrace the home Wi-Fi device consumer because (1) they depend on the low latency and high connection speeds to retrieve high quality data (2) users are increasingly accustomed to bandwidth-intensive activities on laptops, smartphones and, increasingly, tablets (3) in-home usage is a precursor to outside-the-home usage (4) it's an opportunity for broadband providers to offer a mobile 4G service as a compliment to in-home Wi-Fi solutions.
The study also discovered that older consumers are the least likely to use Wi-Fi devices, whereas middle-aged consumers are more likely to use Wi-Fi in airports and hotels because they’re typically traveling abroad on business. Smartphone ownership tends to drive more Wi-Fi usage (because unlimited data plans are almost nonexistent), thus consumers who don't own a smartphone are least likely to use Wi-Fi.
"Consumers with smartphones are more likely to use Wi-Fi in various locations," the firm reports. "Everything that applies to smartphone users also applies to Wi-Fi use: for example, they tend to be in their 20s, 30s or 40s; they tend to be employed or, in some cases, in school; they tend to have reported annual household incomes that are above the U.S. median."
iGR also said that tablet users, by default, are the most likely to use Wi-Fi in any given location -- and they typically already own a Wi-Fi capable smartphone. For more information on the report and how to obtain a copy, head here.