Monday, February 13, 2006

In-Stat: 3G Data and For-Pay Wi-Fi Services Face Tough Sell

In-Stat has issued a new report that finds the "lack of perceived value by consumers for 3G bandwidth indicates continued downward pressure on cellular data pricing, and will also dampen prospects for for-pay Wi-Fi service providers and aggregators. Nevertheless, because consumer enthusiasm for free Wi-Fi is ample, Wi-Fi hotspot operators do have an opportunity to exploit the technology’s low barriers to entry and its horizontal business model."

Allyn Hall at In-Stat said, "Both cellular and Wi-Fi are currently serving mobile data users. However, so far, neither service has found the sweet spot, the perfect balance of speed, coverage, and price." The report found the following:

  • Amongst Wi-Fi users, more than 60% sometimes or always plan their travel with Wi-Fi availability as a consideration.
  • 1Q04—1Q05 year-on-year Wi-Fi revenue and shipment growth was strong, but quarter-on-quarter growth figures show an overall slowdown.
  • According to an In-Stat consumer survey, laptop/notebook computers are used for mobile data almost twice as often as cell phones.
  • More than one-third of Wi-Fi users use only free Wi-Fi connections, and 18.9% use Wi-Fi only at home or at work. Nearly two-thirds (61.7%), however, also said they use commercial hotspots.
I'm not sure I believe that last figure. It seems to be very high. It'll be intersting to see how T-Mobile fares with its combined unlimited data and Wi-Fi hotspot plan in the U.S. when it launches the T-Mobile MDA (HTC Wizard) and SDA (HTC Tornado).