Sprint users increasingly eschewing Wi-Fi for cellular, now chomping through 101 MB per day

Sprint

According to new data, Sprint users are increasingly moving away from Wi-Fi networks in favor of the operator’s cellular connections. And they’re also using significantly more data on those cellular connections—around 101 MB per day, on average.

The new customer usage findings come from consulting and engineering company P3 and research firm Strategy Analytics, which partnered in December to analyze wireless users’ behavior. The numbers indicate that Sprint’s unlimited data plans may be catching fire among the carrier’s subscribers, potentially moving them away from Wi-Fi networks. Sprint’s users “show a massive shift in app sessions to cellular from Wi-Fi. This may be attributed to the introduction of Sprint’s unlimited data plans,” P3 wrote in an analysis of its findings.

Specifically, P3 and Strategy Analytics found that Sprint’s customers used an average of 101 MB per day on the carrier’s cellular network during the fourth quarter. That figure is a notable increase from the 89 MB those customers used on average during the first three quarters of 2016. Concurrently, during the same time period Sprint’s subscribers reduced the amount of data they transmitted over Wi-Fi networks, from an average of 168 MB per day during the first three quarters of 2016 to 155 MB during the fourth quarter of 2016.

During the fourth quarter, P3 collected data on U.S. wireless usage via more than 2,300 participating smartphone users, with nearly 11 million samples from throughout the United States. And in December P3’s data was merged with the demographic and psychographic information collected by Strategy Analytics' AppOptix, a real-time mobile consumer tracking and intelligence platform.

Sprint introduced its “Unlimited Freedom” data plans in August, which offer a single line of unlimited everything for $60 a month, with a second line available for an additional $40 a month. As FierceWireless and Wave7 Research reported in July, Sprint tested the plans in a handful of markets several weeks prior to the launch in August.

And shortly after Sprint’s August launch, Sprint introduced its “Unlimited Freedom Premium” plan, which includes unlimited HD streaming videos at up to 1080p+, HD music streaming at up to 1.5 Mbps and gaming streaming at up to 8 Mbps. Sprint charges $80 a month for a single line of the service; two lines cost $140 per month.

Of course, Sprint isn’t the only operator offering unlimited data. For example, T-Mobile earlier this month scrapped its longtime Simple Choice plans for new users, opting instead to only offer its T-Mobile One unlimited plans to new users (at the same time the operator sweetened T-Mobile One by killing the associated taxes and fees it charged to users and giving $10 credits to subscribers who use 2 GB or less per month per line).

AT&T too offers unlimited data options to its DirecTV subscribers.

The data from P3 and Strategy Analytics on Sprint’s customer usage is part of a wider look at U.S. wireless customer behavior that FierceWireless will publish next week.