58% of UK mobile users would switch to provider offering free public wifi – report

Communications infrastructure specialist Arqiva has published a report claiming two thirds of UK mobile users would consider switching to a provider offering free public wifi access as part of their subscription package. It also said three quarters of 4G users still connect to wifi networks.

The Public Wi-Fi in a 4G World report, conducted for the UK-based company by analyst firm Analysis Mason, surveyed 2,000 consumers on their perception and usage of wifi services. According to the findings, demand for wifi has not decreased with the adoption of 4G, with 76% of all mobile subscribers still using wifi.

28% of UK mobile users have access to 4G, and the report said 75% of those also use wifi services. Furthermore, it claimed 4G users would be even more likely to churn if a package with inclusive wifi was offered against one without. But the report also concluded that while wifi networks are seen as a better option than non-4G networks, they are not regarded as good as 4G.

“The research shows that consumers see public wifi networks as a complement to cellular connectivity,” Tom Rebbeck, Research Director at Analysys Mason said. “The move to 4G doesn’t seem to reduce the demand for public wifi access – it may even reinforce the demand for high speed networks of all types.”

Although the report said the main driver for public wifi use is the cost of data, it also recognised many locations where free wifi access is available mobile coverage may be poor or non-existent. 19% of respondents said they connect to wifi because no mobile signal is available, and this figure at 23% was slightly higher for 4G users.

59% of respondents said they see operators as the providers they would most likely use for public wifi if given the option. Non-4G users rate wifi services more highly than cellular connectivity, and would take the availability of these services into consideration when choosing a network provider.

“With constantly connected, digital lives, we’re now demanding the ability to stay online whenever and wherever we are,” Nicolas Ott, Managing Director of Telecoms at Arqiva said. “As the variety of high bandwidth connectivity options increases, we wanted to understand more about consumer attitudes to the costs versus availability between public WiFi and cellular networks.

“Revealing the clear value consumers still attach to public WiFi provision, the results offer some interesting insights for mobile network operators. Aside from indicating a potential churn opportunity, they also named mobile operators as the most obvious provider of public WiFi networks. Operators should therefore look at the connectivity bundle packages they can offer their customers in order to further increase brand loyalty and sales.”


Source: Arqiva, The Public Wi-Fi in a 4G World report

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