4G still not displacing Dutch reliance on Wi-Fi

Tuesday 21 March 2017 | 12:57 CET | Background

LTE networks are available nationwide in the Netherlands, and the number of users has risen to 9 million. With the much faster speeds available over 4G compared to 3G, one might expect that mobile users turn less to Wi-Fi and use mobile data more. However, research by Telecompaper shows that only 15 percent are using Wi-Fi less since adopting 4G, a percentage stable for the past year.  

Not only is 4G faster, many Dutch operators have introduced bigger data bundles in the past year. Telfort raised the volume of its bundles without any price increase, and Simyo stopped charging extra for 4G access. Tele2 also increased the volume of its most popular plans, and T-Mobile even introduced unlimited data for the first time.  

Men use Wi-Fi less 

According to research by the Telecompaper Consumer Panel in January, 20 percent of men said they use Wi-Fi less since adopting 4G. Women were half as likely to reduce Wi-Fi usage, with only 10 percent saying they've cut back on Wi-Fi since starting with 4G. Women said they use Wi-Fi when away from home more than men, at 41 percent versus 34 percent.  

Among all Dutch consumers, 37 percent said they use Wi-Fi more since they have 4G. That's up slightly from 34 percent in January 2016 and 2015. Nearly half (46%) said their Wi-Fi usage hasn't change since the arrival of 4G, a percentage also little changed compared to the same survey in the two previous years.  

Quarter watch more video on 4G

The faster speeds and bigger data bundles offered with 4G have led some to use certain services more. Almost one in five (17%) said they stream music more over 4G, and a quarter (25%) said they watch videos on their smartphone more often since having 4G. Only 3 percent said they watched less video, and 51 percent said there was no change in their video usage since switching from 3G.  

Uploading videos and streaming video services such as Netflix and Videoland are still not used by nearly half (48%) of Dutch mobile consumers. However, a small percentage said they do use these services more with 4G, at 8 percent for uploading video and 14 percent for streaming services such as Netflix. 

4G not yet Wi-Fi replacement 

The figures suggest that consumers don't see 4G as the ultimate replacement for Wi-Fi. This is supported by research from Open Signal, which found that Dutch spend the most time on Wi-Fi over mobile devices of any country in the world. Over two-thirds (68.5%) of their time connected on a mobile is over Wi-Fi. 

More likely Wi-Fi and 4G can be seen as complementary; as consumers use more mobile data over 4G so will their volume of Wi-Fi usage also increase. Cost of course also plays a role. Many are still concerned about exceeding their data allowance and the subsequent costs, while Wi-Fi is largely offered free. 

At home, the Wi-Fi connection is also often faster. However, other research by Telecompaper found that a significant number of consumers would consider LTE as a replacement for their home broadband connection. A third said they would do so if the 4G connection was at least as fast as their current fixed connection, and 45 percent would consider LTE for home use if it was cheaper. 

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