Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone users in the U.S. continue to rely on Wi-Fi connections more than subscribers using Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, according to a new report from research firm comScore.
The results of comScore's "Device Essentials" report from February fit with a similar report the firm released in May 2011. According to the February report, 71 percent of U.S. iPhone users use a combination of cellular and Wi-Fi networks while only 29 percent browse via mobile networks alone. In contrast, 32 percent of U.S. Android users browse for content via a combination of mobile and Wi-Fi networks while 68 percent use cellular networks alone.
The disparity between U.S. iPhone and Android users was evident in the May 2011 report as well. According to that report, iPhone users accessed Wi-Fi/LAN networks for 47.5 percent of all mobile Web pageviews and mobile networks for 52.5 percent of the time. In contrast, Android users connected via Wi-Fi 21.7 percent of the time and mobile networks 78.3 percent of the time.
ComScore's new report also looked at Wi-Fi vs. cellular data usage by U.S. carrier. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) smartphone subscribers browsed using both mobile and Wi-Fi networks 58 percent of the time, while 42 percent only used mobile networks. AT&T was by far the carrier with the most Wi-Fi usage: 32 percent of T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) subscribers used both Wi-Fi and cellular data and 29 percent of Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) used both types of networks. AT&T was the first carrier in the nation to move away from unlimited wireless data in favor of a tiered usage pricing structure.
The report also compared Wi-Fi usage between U.S. subscribers and those in the U.K. Subscribers of the five major U.K. carriers--Vodafone, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Three--used both Wi-Fi and mobile networks on average 69 percent of the time, compared with an average of 38 percent in the United States.
ComScore analyst Serge Matta said there may several reasons for the discrepancy in usage between the two countries. "In the U.K., the scarcity of unlimited data plans and higher incidence of smartphone prepaid contracts with a pay-as-you-go data model likely contributes to data offloading among users wanting to economize their mobile usage," he said in a statement. "In addition, the current lack of high-speed data networks in the U.K. might also lead users to seek out higher bandwidth capacity on Wi-Fi networks. In the U.S., the increased availability of LTE, 4G and other high-speed data networks currently make it less necessary for smartphone users to offload, but it's also possible that the diminishing availability of unlimited cellular data plans will eventually push more usage to Wi-Fi."
- see this comScore release
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