Friday, December 16, 2011

My Wi-Fi Offload

To get a better idea of how much data is actually offloaded to Wi-Fi, I downloaded NetCounter, an app available for free from the Android Marketplace.

The reality is that most mobile operators can only count bytes that traverse their packet data infrastructure (SGSN/GGSN). Typically they can't see what gets routed directly over Wi-Fi (perhaps there's an exception if using CarrierIQ).

So how much data actually goes over Wi-Fi versus the cellular network?

The vast majority of my data is over Wi-Fi. For the past two months, I have logged 1,907 mb through my smartphone - with 205 mb over cellular and 1,702 over Wi-Fi.

Percentage-wise, that's a 90/10% split.

Granted I'm Wi-Fi savvy, plus I'm using T-Mobile's Wi-Fi Calling service which encourages me to turn on, and leave on, Wi-Fi when I'm at home and in the office.

Also I spend the vast majority of my waking time within range of Wi-Fi both at home and in the office.

Of course, this is a sample size of one, but still quite telling. Wi-Fi is certainly the work-horse of my mobile internet experience.

Nielsen - Telling the US smartphone story

I’m always on the look-out for a good resource which highlights what’s really happening in the mobile market. Recently I’ve been turning to quarterly reports published by consumer preferences company Nielsen.

The most recent Nielsen Q3 2011 Mobile Survey report is packed with interesting tidbits on the US smartphone market.

I particularly like their chart on smartphone ownership by OS by manufacturer:

In another post on another blog, I commented how the word “voice” didn’t appear in the report until page 24… a testament to how we use our smartphones today – as mobile internet tools, messaging machines, game-stations, and apparently last as an actual phone.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Republic Wireless turns mobile world upside down

Republic Wireless... heard of them? It's a little company with a big concept.

You may have heard about their $19/month 'unlimited' service offer in the US. This is certainly what's garnering headlines.

But for mobile industry watchers, it's not the price but the approach which is turning the mobile model upside-down.

The concept is that people spend the majority of their time indoors (home, office) and within range of Wi-Fi.

Rather than relying on expense and limited cellular spectrum, Republic 'requires' subscribers to use their service predominately over Wi-Fi. Yes, they offer a 'fall back' to Sprint when out and about, but per their customer service agreement, Republic will cut you off if you use too much of Sprint's network. Wow.

There have been plenty of discussions about turning Wi-Fi into a global, mobile network. Trilogy Partner's CEO John Stanton said he spoke with Steve Jobs in 2006/2007 about creating Apple's own mobile network based on Wi-Fi.

And now Republic has taken such a service to market.

We've known for quite some time that the majority of mobile usage happens indoors. And it's these indoor locations which are most difficult to cover from outdoor macro cell towers. This problem, combined with the compelling rise of smartphones as a constant companion, has fueled the rise of Wi-Fi usage within mobile networks.

What Republic is showing is that a 'mobile service' doesn't need to be exclusive to cellular spectrum or radio towers.

In this case, cellular is a service delivered 'over the top' of Wi-Fi. The implications are profound.

Will Republic succeed? Unlikely. They don't have the brand awareness/marketing firepower to make a dent in the hyper-competitive US mobile market.

But as US operators look to lower costs while trying to address massive data demand, they will quickly realize Wi-Fi is for more than just simple data offload.