Wireless networks will carry almost 60 percent of smartphone and tablet data traffic by 2019, reaching over 115,000 Petabytes (PB) by 2019, compared to under 30,000 PB this year. The figure represents nearly a four-fold increase, according to a report from Juniper Research.
The study indicated that mobile data offload--data migration from a mobile network to a WiFi network--offers several key benefits to industry stakeholders. But is also cautioned that WiFi offload brings challenges of effective deployment and return on investment (ROI).
"WiFi is an integral part of hospitality and retail business especially with consumers now expecting free WiFi connectivity at hotels,” Nitin Bhas head of research at Juniper, told eWEEK. "Businesses are making use of WiFi connectivity to offer targeted and location-based services such as vouchers and discounts and also to run other marketing campaigns."
Bhas noted younger users are increasingly tapping mobile devices in-store to check out product reviews and compare prices, and retailers are capitalizing on this trend to offer an enhanced in-store and connected experience.
Developing markets such as the Indian subcontinent are forecast to experience higher growth rates and increased market share of the total mobile data traffic over the next five years, with operators in India already tracking close to 100 percent year over year growth in data usage.
The report also projected North America and West Europe would together account for more than half of the global mobile data being offloaded in 2019.
"With WiFi now becoming part of the overall small-cell architecture, operators are increasingly partnering with service providers such as Boingo," Bhas said. "These companies have a strong set of customers and are expected to continue to focus on expanding into mid-market and consumer sectors."
"WiFi offload brings challenges to operators of effective deployment and return on investment. Operators need to deploy WiFi zones in problematic areas or partner with WiFi hotspot operators and aggregators such as iPass and Boingo," Bhas noted.
Additionally, operators are converting residential customers to community hotspot providers, especially in the U.S. According to iPass, there were nearly 40 million community hotspots in 2014 and the figure is expected to more than double this year to nearly 90 million.
Bhas also noted that from an operator perspective, broad deployment is a necessity to achieve reasonable offload performance.