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  • Mark Middleton

4G Mobile Subscribers Still Want Bundled Free Wi-Fi

We are not surprised to read that three out of four 4G mobile subscribers still use public Wi-Fi networks to get online. This is according to new research from Analysis Mason, commissioned by Arqiva. The survey of 2,000 UK mobile phone subscribers found that 4G subscribers:

  • Are as likely as non-4G subscribers to use public Wi-Fi networks.

  • Place a higher monetary value on access to public Wi-Fi networks than non-4G subscribers.

  • Would be more likely than non-4G users to switch to a mobile network operator that provided public Wi-Fi connectivity as part of the bundle.

This is telling for mobile network operators, some of whom do not have a Wi-Fi strategy at all. It is time for mainstream mobile network operators to embrace Wi-Fi and include it as part-and-parcel of the mobile service bundle. Subscribers value a Wi-Fi + 3g/4G bundle over a 3G/4G only plan without Wi-Fi.

If a mobile operator does not provide Wi-Fi as part of its mobile bundle, it knowingly risks a percentage of its subscribers churning to the mobile operator that does – Martyn Levy, Acurix Networks.

Mobile network operators without their own Wi-Fi footprint can rapidly secure Wi-Fi access by leveraging existing Wi-Fi networks via roaming or shared infrastructure deals. There is little point in building out a carrier-grade Wi-Fi network footprint when third-party Wi-Fi infrastructure is available.

Also interesting is that “UK mobile subscribers would rather have an equal balance of cellular and public Wi-Fi access in their data allowance rather than a bundle that favours either cellular or public Wi-Fi access”. In New Zealand, the trend (lead by Spark) is to offer its subscribers 1GB per day of free Wi-Fi across multiple devices, rather than include it as part of the overall mobile plan data cap.

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