June 8, 2011 at 2:56 PM ET
With Wi-Fi more accessible than ever before, smartphone users are turning to it for their ever-heavier data-driven surfing, uploading and downloading, with 95.3 percent of those responding to a recent survey saying they require a phone that can automatically transition between mobile and Wi-Fi networks.
Wi-Fi also seems to figure more prominently as a necessity with the onset of data capping, with nearly 73 percent of respondents declaring they'd switch carriers if they started limiting the access in their plan.
GigaOm's Kevin C. Tofel got the heads-up on the 2011 second quarter report from Devicescape, which produces software that connects devices to Wi-Fi. They also work with device manufacturers and service providers, landing hundreds of design wins in the best Wi-Fi products. Devicescape regularly polls its membership, which numbers more than 3 million.
I don't know about you, but wherever I go, I'm always trying to find a Wi-Fi hook-up. And I usually find it, though not always for free. Seems I'm not alone. We also got a copy of the report, and found some interesting trends.
In this latest report, 64 percent of the 1,227 surveyed hit Wi-Fi hot spots at least once a day outside their home or office. Only 10.2 percent who use it only at their home or office.
Devicescape pointed out the increase from first quarter 2010, which saw slightly more than 50 percent of respondents connect to WiFi daily, with 27 percent connecting on average many times a day.
When not using their home or office Wi-Fi, respondents said they connect at a café or coffee shop (24.4 percent), at a hotel (17.3 percent) and at a school campus (15 percent). Airports and train/bus stations came in last at 4.7 percent.
It's a finding consistent with the company's earlier trend-spotting, as it stated in its 2010 third quarter report:
Since the very first Devicescape WiFi Report in April 2009, results have consistently pointed to a single, ongoing trend: Connectivity is a necessity. Equally important, according to past results, is that WiFi be built into "smart" devices, enabling high performance connectivity, often as a complement to cellular.
These two ideas continue to reign in Devicescape’s most recent report. This quarter’s respondents want WiFi connectivity built into their laptops/netbooks (98 percent) and cell phones/smartphones (94.7 percent). Additionally, the majority (69.3 percent) of respondents want WiFi connectivity when they’re traveling away from home, with 88.2 percent expecting WiFi to be available at every hotel.
Data capping will continue to be a sore spot, though the number that would switch is lower than the third-quarter number: almost 80 percent. Maybe the decrease has to do with the inevitability of carriers' adopting limits on data, as Tofel wrote:
Following AT&T’s move to plans with limited amounts of data last June, Verizon has suggested it will do the same this summer. And due to AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile, the number four carrier, AT&T and Verizon will account for nearly 80 percent of all cellular customers in the U.S., all of whom are likely to have limited mobile broadband plans.
Other highlights from the report: