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Offloading Data Use to Wi-Fi Networks Improves Mobile Viewing Experience

In their homes and places of business, more and more consumers are relying on Wi-Fi connectivity, instead of their cellular carrier, helping to ease bandwidth congestion and facilitate faster access to apps and mobile content. That’s according to a new report by wefi, a provider of mobile applications and network analytics.

Leveraging its Wi-Fi network management software (patented and patent-pending technology) and database of some 200 million hotspots, wefi said it helps wireless carriers, cable operators and streaming media content producers deliver a high-quality and reliable mobility experience. The company’s technology provides customers with visibility into the use of Wi-Fi connectivity, both on and off their own networks. This allows operators to better plan networks, predict usage and deliver the best network connection based on custom connection policies.

This increasing use of Wi-Fi, and the overall rise in Wi-Fi offloading nationwide, has been helped by the fact that many smartphones and tablets can be set to automatically sense and log users into Wi-Fi networks when they are present. It also saves consumers data costs.

Wefi’s latest Quarterly Wi-Fi Analytics Report found that carriers are offloading Wi-Fi in nearly 80 percent of all U.S. states, an increase of 2-3 percent compared to Q4 2013. In addition, the report found that sports and entertainment apps—such as ESPN, Instagram, Netflix, Spotify and Vine—make up the majority of data use on mobile devices. These insights are based on data gathered from millions of mobile devices in the U.S. enabled with wefi software.

“Facebook has been optimized for easy sharing of rich media which entails the uploading and downloading of larger content files. This requires more bandwidth which may affect users’ speeds,” said David Fishman, Chief Marketing Officer at wefi, in a statement. “In contrast, content shared on Snapchat is much smaller in size and once viewed, is not stored, requiring less bandwidth and resulting in faster user speeds.”

The Q1 2014 Wi-Fi Analytics Report found that offloading continues to be a key strategy employed by carriers nationwide. Specifically:

– The top five states with the highest Wi-Fi offloading rates were Utah (99 percent), New Mexico (98 percent), Arkansas (98 percent), Vermont (98 percent) and Maine (97 percent). Of note, New Mexico and Utah were the only states that kept their position in the top 5 Wi-Fi offloading list from Q4 of 2013.

– Across the Eastern United States where cellular services are more pervasive, Wi-Fi offloading was also more robust with carriers offloading 82 percent more data than those represented across the Western United States.

– Wi-Fi and cellular networks were faster in Q1 2014 compared to the same time last year (based on average of states with the top 5 fastest speeds).

– Wi-Fi networks were 27 percent faster in Q1 2014 with an average speed of 5.3 Mbps compared to Q1 2013 with an average speed of 4.2 Mbps. Massachusetts, Maryland, Iowa, Illinois and Connecticut reported the fastest Wi-Fi connections this quarter.

– Cellular networks were 62 percent faster in Q1 2014 with an average speed of 4.7 Mbps compared to Q1 2013, which had an average speed of 2.9 Mbps (based on the average of states with the top 5 fastest speeds in Q1 2014 compared to Q1 2013 respectively). New Hampshire, Missouri, Maine, Louisiana and Kansas clocked in as the top five states with the fastest cellular connections this quarter.

The report also found that ESPN, Instagram, Netflix, Spotify and Vine are the top five most downloaded applications.

Other highlights from the wefi Q1 2014 Wi-Fi Analytics Report include:

– Most states, with the exception of Connecticut and Florida, averaged above 92 percent in Wi-Fi offloading.

– Wi-Fi offloading increased by 90 percent from 4 states in the first quarter of 2013 to 41 states in the first quarter of 2014—with an average of 94 percent Wi-Fi offloading in these 41 states.

– In the first quarter of 2014, wefi found Snapchat speeds blew past Facebook on every metric, including per state and in-state comparisons. For example, in Manhattan, users of Snapchat experienced a nearly 106 percent increase in Mbps whereas Facebook user speeds fell by nearly 81 percent.

The wefi Quarterly Wi-Fi Analytics Report includes national statistics related to wireless Internet: including cellular data offloading onto Wi-Fi networks; amount of data being uploaded and downloaded; average Wi-Fi and cellular data speeds; and mobile application data usage.

“The proliferation of smart mobile devices with built-in broadband capabilities has marked a transformation in how consumers use their devices. Today’s consumers have an insatiable demand for connected smart mobile devices, generating rising amounts of mobile data consumption via Wi-Fi,” said Zur Feldman, wefi’s CEO. “To address this growing demand for more data and more bandwidth, network carriers can offload users from their 3G/4G network to Wi-Fi networks to add more capacity in a more affordable and flexible way.”