Traditionally, mobile internet users expect Wi-Fi connection to offer a faster experience than using their own data to get online, but a new study shows that this is not always the case.
A study by OpenSignal has found that there are 33 nations around the world where mobile networks offer a faster download speed than Wi-Fi. This includes several in Europe, such as France, Greece, Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia and Serbia.
In Australia, people who use their mobile network can expect a download speed 13 megabits per second (Mbps) faster than those on Wi-Fi. Middle Eastern nations like Lebanon (12.3Mbps), Qatar (11.8Mbps) and Oman (11Mbps) are other areas where there is a sizeable speed advantage to going online with a mobile connection.
Wi-Fi still provides faster speeds in 59% of the countries analysed, however. In the UK, Wi-Fi is 11.8Mbps faster, making it the country with the 10th biggest Wi-Fi speed advantage. Top of this table was Hong Kong, due to its very fast 53.3Mbps Wi-Fi connection speed and mediocre 14.7Mbps mobile equivalent.
Another finding of the study is that Wi-Fi speed has no effect on how long people spend using it. The report puts this down to mobiles automatically connecting to Wi-Fi due to smartphone manufacturers’ assumptions that it is a superior option, but it also must beg the question of whether it could be due to the slower connection forcing users to spend more time searching for what they are looking for.
What about the cost?
The report is an interesting insight into how quickly mobile connection is developing, and that the assumption of Wi-Fi being faster largely stems from the days of 2G and 3G connection. With 4G now the expectation in most developed nations, mobile is speedy, and the introduction of 5G will lead “many more countries” to have faster mobile networks than Wi-Fi, according to OpenSignal.
However, the report says very little about what is probably the main reason why people still prefer Wi-Fi – the cost. With most of us tied to a mobile data package and forced to pay for add-ons if we exceed it, the advantages of connecting to Wi-Fi are obvious regardless of whether it is a faster or slower option.
Earlier this month, the chief executive of telecommunications firm Three said 5G will be so impressive, we may no longer need broadband connections in the home. The onus is therefore surely on network providers to acknowledge the advancement of mobile connectivity and offer affordable flat-rate packages that reflect this.