Smith Micro: 84% of smartphone users support automatic Wi-Fi offloading

Saving money and gaining performance outweigh privacy concerns for the vast majority of smartphone users when it comes to automatic Wi-Fi offloading for smartphones, according to Smith Micro Software.

Revealing results from an online poll of more than 500 mobile consumers that was conducted on the vendor's behalf by uSamp, Smith Micro said automatic Wi-Fi connections for smartphones look attractive to 84 percent of survey respondents, who said they would allow a carrier to provide automatic Wi-Fi links in exchange for better device performance or a lower phone bill.

When survey participants were asked about allowing carriers to install software that enabled automatic network transitions, only 2 percent of participants indicated that privacy would be a consideration.

The survey also revealed that 95 percent of smartphone users surveyed would leverage Wi-Fi if it enabled better mobile data performance, while 88 percent would prefer to access Wi-Fi networks if it reduced their monthly phone bill. In addition, while 82 percent of respondents want to use their mobile device as a hotspot, almost one-third do not due to cost or usability issues.

The company said onsite interviews it conducted at last week's CTIA convention revealed similar sentiments about smartphone hotspot usage. "We were surprised when we asked attendees at CTIA, a leading wireless industry event, about their mobile hotspot usage and many didn't know what a mobile hotspot was or how to access it on their phones," said Carla Fitzgerald, Smith Micro's vice president of marketing.

While 54 percent of users surveyed have used their mobile device's hotspot capabilities, more than half do not pay their carrier for the capability, and instead opt for third-party free or paid tethering apps to connect. "Subscription-based tethering plans may be driving consumers to these over-the-top options, and survey respondents indicated a desire for more flexible data service plans. For example, 37 percent of respondents indicated they would prefer a mobile data plan that offered a flat-fee per use based on the type of application used versus paying for gigabytes used," said Smith Micro.

Operators are increasingly opting for Wi-Fi offloading as a way to reduce the data traffic load on their macro cellular networks.

A recent study from Infonetics Research revealed that two-thirds of mobile service providers surveyed said they have deployed 20,000 to more than 150,000 Wi-Fi access points in public spaces. The top driver for Wi-Fi offloading is complementing the mobile data service by enhancing throughput. That is is followed by the scarcity of licensed spectrum as a key motivator.

For more:
- see this Smith Micro release

Related articles:
Infonetics: 70% of operators will deploy Wi-Fi for street coverage by 2013
Ericsson wants operators to control their small cells, Wi-Fi access points
Study: Easier Wi-Fi access could lure smartphones, tablet users
Syniverse enters client-centric Wi-Fi offloading arena
Wi-Fi offloading: Who controls your handset?

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