Juniper: 60% of smartphone, tablet data traffic will run over Wi-Fi by 2019

Wi-Fi offloading of cellular data is going to continue to accelerate, especially in North America and Western Europe, according to a new report from Juniper Research. The report indicates Wi-Fi networks will carry 60 percent of global smartphone and tablet data traffic by 2019, compared to just over 50 percent estimated in 2014.

By 2019, more than 115,000 petabytes of cellular smartphone and tablet traffic will be offloaded to Wi-Fi networks, compared to under 30,000 petabytes this year, representing almost a four-fold increase, the report found.

"Wi-Fi is nearly ubiquitous amongst most mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and even high-end feature phones," Juniper Research analyst and report author Nitin Bhas noted to FierceWireless. "Mobile data usage is high while indoors, rather than mobile or while on the go."

He said that those factors, along with the relative affordability of wireless network broadband in the home, have enabled users to connect a number of devices. "This has been primarily user initiated; even in the enterprise sector, Wi-Fi offload has enabled employees to move between and share different physical work areas," he added.

Meanwhile, carriers have been using their own Wi-Fi networks or partners' Wi-Fi hotspots increasingly over the past few years to offload intensive data users from their macro cellular networks.

North America and Western Europe will together account for more than 50 percent of the global mobile data being offloaded in 2019, Juniper said. "However, towards the second half of the forecast period, the penetration levels, especially in North America and rest of Asia Pacific, are expected to taper off and will begin to gradually decline as 4G usage becomes more prevalent and consumer starts taking advantage of these faster networks," he said.

According to Wi-Fi service provider iPass, there were nearly 40 million community hotspots globally in 2014 and it expects this to more than double this year to nearly 90 million. Such hotspots are residential or business Wi-Fi networks allowing other users access to the network.

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