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PwC warns of threats to mobile broadband

Tuesday, April 17th 2012
Wi-Fi is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to mobile broadband, a new study has revealed.
PwC warns of threats to mobile broadband
Mobile broadband operators are at risk of falling revenues or failing to take full advantage of network upgrades because consumers are increasingly turning to Wi-Fi services, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The consulting firm warned mobile service providers that Wi-Fi and other alternatives are becoming easier to use, while unclear mobile broadband data charges are also persuading customers to adopt other forms of internet access while out and about.

Almost half of end users surveyed by PwC admitted they do not know how much data they consume in a typical month and more than four-fifths said they are unaware how much they will be charged for exceeding their allowance.

These factors combine to create a fear among users of going over their data limit, the organisation claimed.

As a result, 45 per cent of respondents claimed they will restrict their usage in a bid to remain within their monthly allocation.

Highlighting the growing popularity of private Wi-Fi, 94 per cent stated these services meet or exceed their expectations, compared with 83 per cent who said the same thing about mobile broadband.

Just under three-quarters of those polled expressed satisfaction with public Wi-Fi.

David Russell, telecoms partner at PwC, said: "With the growing availability and usage of Wi-Fi ... the challenges for mobile broadband networks have extended beyond the 'data deluge' triggered by exploding take-up of smartphones to the management of this shift in connectivity.

"Where mobile operators can control this shift, they can manage network demand and optimise network investments, but they must avoid consumers migrating valuable usage onto Wi-Fi services."

Despite PwC's claims about the threats facing mobile broadband, Ericsson predicted last year that the number of subscriptions is set to grow from 900 million at the end of last year to almost five billion in 2016.

Over the same period, mobile data traffic is expected to grow tenfold.

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