Wi-Fi After Smartphones Vs. Speedy Gonzales After Cheese

Believe it or not, Wi-Fi is spreading faster in smartphones than Speedy Gonzales running after Cheese. Another News I forgot to blog about during the CTIA event last month is the fast spread of Wi-Fi in 4G  mobile technologies.

According to ABI research, the number of phones shipped with Wi-Fi jumped to 139.3 million in 2009, up from 92.5 million in 2008. The annual shipping number will surpass 500 million units by 2014, when 90 percent of all smartphones will have the technology. And even as smartphones make up more of the handset market, Wi-Fi is expected to grow more common in less-expensive phones.

Given the demand for internet access from everywhere, it does make sense for mobile carriers and handset vendors to focus on this feature to free up their cellular networks. The feature also gives a safety valve for carriers. Some, such as AT&T, have been steadily adding Wi-Fi hotspots to their infrastructure in pursuit of both of these goals. AT&T acquired hotspot provider Wayport in 2008. In addition to providing a place for laptop users with data cards to work, those freely available networks for AT&T subscribers can give frustrated iPhone users a bump in speed while reducing the strain on the carrier’s 3G network.

At the same time, cell phones are becoming a bigger part of the Wi-Fi world. About one-quarter of the 580 million devices that the Wi-Fi Alliance certified last year were phones, including 1.9 million specialized Wi-Fi-only phones.

The Wi-Fi Alliance certifies about 95 percent of all the handsets that have wireless LAN capability and gives them the Wi-Fi seal of approval. The worldwide lineup of phones that include Wi-Fi is no longer limited to a small upper echelon of products: In 2008, the Alliance certified just over 100 individual handset models. In 2009, it signed off on 252 such products.

Samsung Wave

The latest Wi-Fi technology, IEEE 802.11n, is also starting to find its way into phones. At least one phone with 11n — Samsung’s Wave — announced, and Google’s Nexus One reportedly contains the hardware for it. The move toward 11n is inevitable across the Wi-Fi universe as that technology becomes the default for more products, driving up 11n chip production volumes and driving down prices.

I think one of the main challenges for both mobile carriers and vendors is how to change the consumer behavior. I have an Android phone with Wi-Fi feature. Although, I realize accessing the Internet is much faster via Wi-Fi than 3G using my Android, but I have been always using my 3G to access the Net in a free Wi-Fi zone.    I know for sure I am not the only one doing this.

Feel free to connect with me via awesomize.me

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and telezoo.com that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @ awesomize.me

35 Responses to Wi-Fi After Smartphones Vs. Speedy Gonzales After Cheese

  1. I probably use Wi-Fi 5-10% of the time. I have an HTC Droid. I use Wi-Fi particularly for the SipDroid app to sign into my work phone from home.

  2. I use Wi-Fi 70% or more to connect to my corporate network and use NEC UC applications such as prescence. I currently use an iPhone 3GS and the NEC UC apps are browser based.

  3. I almost never use Wi-Fi on my phone–once or twice just to download a very large file–3G works fine for those data functions I need. Although not difficult to use the Wi-Fi function of the phone, by the time I turn the Wi-Fi on, discover the network, sign-in, etc. (and remember to turn it off to save battery life), there is no time saving versus the 3G network for most of the basic functions I do. (I am looking at the new phone offerings that have 4G/WiMAX.)

  4. Joe Morris says:

    Interesting question Elias. I probably use 3G for my Iphone 50 to 60% of the time to access the Internet because most of the time I use my Iphone to access the Internet I am not in a Wi-Fi hot spot. And like the two previous comments I absolutely love the fact that AT&T has opened up it’s network to allow SIP based VOIP to take place on it’s network. I downloaded a client called Acrobits which allows multiple registrations to occur at the same time. Result is via our TransTel Corporate Network I am hot linked for incoming calls to our sister companies in New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia. Any of those parties can reach me dialing dialing a 3 digit extension number. Push notification allows me to take any one of the calls. As to outgoing calls I can register the client to any one of the other locations. To be able to do all this over the 3G network while I am mobile is fantastic! My IPhone is not set up to automatically switch to a wi fi connection if one is available. It always asks me if I want to do that. I am actually impressed with AT&T’s 3g and don’t bother to switch if I am just browsing………if I am streaming some video or something I might be inclined to switch over.

  5. Every chance I can!!! I have a smartphone account with AT&T (not BB or iPhone) and spend a fair bit of time in Starbucks. Its great to be able to tether my phone to my Laptop and have access to the AT&T Hotspot for free with the added benefit of not chewing up the 5GB on my data plan. For a phone, I alternate between a Nokia E71 which is small but will not charge/power off the USB cable, and my AT&T Tilt (HTC TyTN II) which is bigger and heavier but does charge off of USB. Both Symbian and WinMo make tethering a snap to turn on and configure.

  6. Juan Macias says:

    Given the difference in speed, I always try to use 802.11n; I would say about 85% on wifi and 15% on 3G

  7. I’ve been using WIFI on my mobile long before using 3G on my mobile. I use it very often. Not that much for browsing but for everything else reading e-mail, messenging, VOIP.
    One of the reasons is because i live in a city where almost every coffe bar has an open WIFI access point.

  8. I would be interested to seeing the underlying data of this. It might be the case that smartphones have proportionally more WiFi capabilities and if smartphone sales are on the raise, one might interpret it as WiFi being on the rise. Either way, WiFi in mobile handsets in challenging as hotspots are limited and mostly require some form of payment. Also, there is the longstanding conflict between WiFi and battery life and between WiFi and screen size. I agree that a useful statistic would be to find out how many times WiFi is actually used.

  9. Almost never here in UK. Only at home with my WIFI network with my Sony Ericsson to receive mail and access internet. However at home I still prefer to use my latop.

  10. I use WIFi when I can for one reason – faster response. 3G response is good and despite the musings of many, AT&T as far as I can tell has done a great job in the Chicago area with 3G, WiFi is still faster.

  11. When I travel i only use WIFI for data, it just doesn’t make sense to pay roaming charges when you don’t have to.

  12. Dan Abbas says:

    I use the Wi-Fi even at home because of the faster speed. I usually switch to Wi-Fi when traveling if it is available and reliable to get better speed. Sometimes when traveling I switch back to 3G if I find the local Wi-Fi unreliable.

  13. I hardly ever use the WiFi. That’s why the 3G iPad will be so important – outside the center of major cities, WiFi availability is still far too sparse.

  14. Iphone sets automatically the connection to WiFi if he finds a valid network, if not, goes on 3G (wifi is faster, way faster compared to some phone networks, and can be cheaper if your plan does charge you for data as in Italy). You have to manual switch only if you want to force this rule (if you are on WiFi and for some reasons want to go on 3G. In this case you have to switch off the Wifi reception on the iphone).
    When you can, use WiFi.

  15. Bart Devos says:

    100% Wifi. With the 3g rates in Belgium, i would be ruined by now…

  16. John Rudkin says:

    WiFi experience is very good here. We have installed a town centre wide WiFi. Problem is, we use a login code, and that code cannot be retained. This makes WiFi less convenient. We are going to change our WiFi, so for now, slower 3G is easiest, if slower. At least we have “unlimited” data plans.

  17. David Koorn says:

    I only use WiFi at home and with some friends. I haven’t got any of the T-mobile hotspots activated so far. In the office, on the road and everywhere else I use the 3G. WiFi is faster of course. But 3G is enough for me most of the times.

    It outperfomes my company provided Blackberry 8900 😉

  18. When I first got my Motorola Droid, I was trying to use WiFi whenever possible for speed, but agree wholeheartedly with Antonio and outside of my home network which auto-connects, I hardly ever utilize the WiFi connection any longer unless have a large file issue, and then will consider if I can wait till I’m next at home

  19. Linda N. R says:

    I only use WiFi at home so I can use my iPhone as a remote control for iTunes or other similar purposes. That’s the only WiFi network I have set my phone to automatically join. For all other purposes, even at work, in the presence of a WiFi network, I still use 3G.

  20. Dave DiBiase says:

    I use my Palm Pre Plus from VZ in 3G mode. WiFi is faster when I am sitting down for a coffee and surfing. During a recent storm, some cables came down and our DSL went down with them. My wife and I shared my Pre 3G connection in Mobile Hotspot mode with our laptops. Worked great. If we didn’t have 2 different schedules, I think we could do away with DSL. 4G??

  21. Stacy Ranta says:

    I don’t have a smartphone at the moment (still back in the stone age with an EDGE Motorola) but I’d guess that how much it’s used depends on how available WiFi is where you live. Thankfully, free WiFi is becoming more available, with more and more fast food restaurants offering it.

    When I worked on VZW smartphones, they all had to have the settings changed manually, and I’d imagine it’s the same for most phones. Though some are more difficult to change than others depending on the software.

    Having WiFi running all the time would be a serious drain on the battery. With smartphones, the trend is towards small size with very large, bright screens. Throw Bluetooth into the mix on top of running the cellular antenna, and the battery lasts a bit longer than a snowball in the Sahara. But not much.

  22. Yes Elias. I have a Nokia E71.

  23. I’m using WIFI at home, just to download heavy content (software, music) and 3G is always “switched on” on the go.

  24. Having Wifi is king, if I am in a nice Wifi spot like most of the restaurants and bars then I am good to go. At home I have Wifi and this means I am online nearly every minute of the day, even when I am sleeping!

    Still I can also take use of the 3G network but so far I really only need this when I take a bus or find myself on the move more than usual.

    Now an iPAD make this even more accessible, we are fast approaching perfect integration with our lives!

  25. WiFi as well. The only time I use edge/3g is the rare occasions where i need to bring up a map.

  26. 3G only. Here in Switzerland most public WiFi networks only work after posting an http agreement/login form. Data is cheap once you get some special subscription, and coverage is good enough.

  27. Ben Schmidt says:

    As my home and place of work both have Wi-Fi, my 3G usage is low. But were my workplace not to have Wi-Fi, or were it not to allow employee-owned devices, I would be totally reliant on 3G away from home.

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