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Phone users favour Wi-Fi for dataslurp

Only 22 per cent of info sucked into phones over cellular

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Don’t think mobile data is too expensive and too slow in the UK? Then you probably work for a network operator. Few others would agree with you, which is why smartphone users get more than 78 per cent of their data over Wi-Fi links.

So claims market research company Nielsen, which bases its conclusion on the results of putting apps into some 1500 volunteers’ Android phones to check.

Unsurprisingly, Nielsen’s numbers show cellular data is most relied upon during the day when most folk are out and about. But even then 68 per cent of the data accessed is pulled down over Wi-Fi. That figure rises to almost 90 per cent around midnight.

The average total volumes of data transferred by each participant range from 1.5-2MB each hour between 3am and 6am, rising to more than 6.5MB each hour between 9pm and midnight. The volume of data data sent back and forth during the evening is noticeably higher than it is during the day - and that's when 3G data usage falls to its lowest share of the total hourly volume of data transferred.

The most cellular data a user transfers in a given hour is 1.6MB - between 5pm and 6pm when people are, presumably, heading home. There's a similar, but not as high, peak between 8am and 9am, and between 12pm and 2pm.

Of course, the survey is flawed in as much as it only covers Android users and those among them willing to have Nielsen’s software running on their devices. And while it reveals the relative proportions of 3G and Wi-Fi data usage, it doesn’t say why punters are using which technology at any given time.

Most likely, the speed of Wi-Fi and the convenience of home and office hotspots govern WLAN usage - 3G is the fallback when folk are away from these places. But it would be interesting to see whether phone owners make a beeline for public Wi-Fi provision or are happy to use cellular when they’re not at home or at work.

Equally, is it the price per se that leads folk from 3G to Wi-Fi, or that they’re worried about busting their data transfer limit? ®

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