In the 5G era, service providers and device manufacturers will have to rethink connection strategy, as it is expected 5G networks will nearly always be faster than any other options. Already, in 33 countries smartphone users now experience faster average download speeds using a mobile network than using Wi-Fi, according to OpenSignal mobile analytics.
In 50 countries, 63 percent of those studied, 4G networks offer a faster smartphone download experience than Wi-Fi.
Where it once made sense in most markets to automatically connect mobile customers to Wi-Fi, because Wi-Fi was faster, that might no longer make sense when 5G will be faster than Wi-Fi.
While “speed” is one dimension of experience, it also will matter–as it has in the past–if incentives exist to switch networks for cost reasons. And that is a matter of mobile operator strategy.
Participants in the ecosystem therefore “must rethink when and how to use Wi-Fi to complement the mobile experience,” OpenSignal suggests. In many cases, where tariffs, capacity and speed are aligned, it might not make sense to “force” customers onto Wi-Fi.
“Relying only on Wi-Fi for indoor experience will not be viable,” OpenSignal believes. In the 5G era, “consumers will increasingly override their smartphone’s automatic Wi-Fi choice, and instead select cellular, to find the fastest download speed.”
Of course, bandwidth aggregation might well solve such problems, allowing devices to use both Wi-Fi and the mobile network simultaneously.