Winning with Wi-Fi
With more devices than ever offering a wireless connection, consumers expect to have access to their connected functions at all times. They want to check their email in the drive-through, buy some songs at the hair salon, or even unlock their front door at the dentist. Some users opt to purchase cellular connectivity for their devices, while others hop from one Wi-Fi network to another.
Many service providers are now offering Wi-Fi hotspot access along with a 3G or 4G plan. And according to new data from the Wi-Fi Alliance, www.wi-fi.org, this sort of plan may be consumers’ preference. A survey revealed 90% of users would likely keep their current service provider if it offered the ability to connect automatically in Wi-Fi hotspots. Additionally, 72% of people said they would pay more for this ability.
The bottomline seems to be that users want Wi-Fi use to be easy. They want to connect automatically with no hassles. Wi-Fi by consumers use is a benefit for network providers as well, because they can offload some of the traffic from their networks.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is hoping to spur more providers to offer hotspot access. The organization has a new certification program called Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint. When enabled with Passpoint, users’ devices will automatically identify and join Wi-Fi networks, without requiring users to complete a manual login process. For those worried about security, Passpoint will also automatically configure industry-standard WPA2 security protections without user intervention.
With the booming use of tablets, ereaders, and smartphones, among other connected devices, consumers are sure to continue to crave more Wi-Fi access. The CEA (Consumer Electronics Assn.), www.ce.org, says one in five (20%) of U.S. adults who are online own a tablet. Wi-Fi Alliance’s survey says when using a smartphone or tablet, 85% of people prefer to connect via Wi-Fi over cellular for at least one common online activity.
If network providers can give consumers the convenient Wi-Fi hotspots they want, it could give them a leg up over the competition.