Jean Francois Gros, marketing and business development director at Gemalto
In line with the rising smartphone and mobile data usage, there will be a surge in mobile users demanding quality service and content experiences from their fixed and mobile networks. Jean Francois Gros, marketing and business development director at Gemalto, believes that telcos can meet that demand by offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi networks. He explains why he thinks so, as well as talks about the benefits and future of Wi-Fi.
Tell us more about the mobile and Wi-Fi trends in the Asia Pacific region
Mobile devices are growing at an exponential rate globally, with nearly five billion mobile users in 2018, up from more than four billion in 2013. With the explosion of mobile devices, the mobile technology market has drastically changed consumer behaviour, leading to tremendous data usage on mobile devices. This causes an increase in mobile data traffic globally between 2013 and 2018. For the first time in the history of the Internet, the majority of the Internet traffic originates from devices other than PCs. However, it is not just mobile data traffic that is growing, but connection speed as well. The average mobile connection speed nearly doubled, from 1.4 Mbps in 2013 to 2.5 Mbps by 2018.
Besides mobile, Wi-Fi will also be a significant contributor for Internet traffic, with Wi-Fi traffic exceeding wired traffic for the first time. Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 76 percent of Internet traffic and contribute 61 percent of Internet traffic while cellular will contribute 15 percent by 2018. This is a significant increase from 2013 when Wi-Fi has contributed 55 percent and cellular has contributed 4 percent, according to Cisco.
Closer to home, these trends are also reflective of the situation in Singapore where mobile phone penetration has reached 156 percent in 2013, as reported by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). More than 5.2 million were reported to be 3G mobile subscriptions, and mobile data usage has increased by approximately 30 times from 0.25 petabytes in 2008 to 7.66 petabytes in 2013. To cater to Singaporeans' demands for fast mobile data connections on the go, the nation has expanded its 4G networks to offer 100 percent outdoor coverage. In terms of Wi-Fi developments, 45 percent of the network connectivity on Singaporeans' smartphones take place via Wi-Fi. To address this growing usage of Wi-Fi, Singapore continues to expand its wireless coverage nationwide with Wireless@SG, providing consumers with free Internet access at 7,300 hotspots island-wide at speeds of up to 2 Mbps.
How does offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi networks prevent saturated networks and increase customer satisfaction? Is Wi-Fi more reliable (in terms of stable connection) than mobile data traffic?
Today, the movement to wireless mobile connectivity is changing the way Singaporeans communicate, work and entertain themselves while always being online -- either through their mobile devices or Wi-Fi. As such, mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are under constant pressure to provide faster data speed to keep up with users' insatiable demand for bandwidth-intensive applications. Offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi networks has a significant role in helping them avoid saturated networks and dissatisfied customers by taking pressure off increasingly congested mobile infrastructures.
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