According to a recent Pew study, smartphone users make up 55 percent of cell phone ownership and the number is continuing to grow. As most smartphone capabilities are dependent on access to an Internet connection, the need for a traditional wireless provider is becoming obsolete. Wi-Fi availability is on the rise and more over-the-top (OTT) communication applications are being developed daily. This slideshow features five considerations, identified by Steve Leonard, executive vice president and general manager at Bandwidth, for why Wi-Fi access will eventually replace traditional data plans.
Click through for five reasons why Wi-Fi access will eventually replace traditional data plans, as identified by Steve Leonard, executive vice president and general manager at Bandwidth.
Availability and Access – Consumers today are surrounded by Wi-Fi all day long. As more retailers adopt and offer free Wi-Fi access, mobile users are rarely outside range of a Wi-Fi connection. In cities across the nation, efforts are already in place to convert existing phone booths into Wi-Fi hotspots, further broadening the range of connectivity. Additionally, the FAA recently announced that it will allow Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections to be used below 10,000 feet. Since over-the-top (OTT) VoIP capabilities can be leveraged anywhere as long as Wi-Fi is available, consumers have the ability to make phone calls and send messages in more locations and less traditional environments.
OTT VoIP – Because of OTT capabilities, there are more options for communication every day. OTT VoIP powers some of the most well-known brands in communication, including Skype, Google Voice and Pinger. These technologies allow users the ability to customize the way that they communicate. Many of these apps offer more sophisticated ways to connect than a traditional call over a wireless network through capabilities like video and texting.
Quality – Since Wi-Fi first became available as a service, it has continued to improve to include wider ranges, faster speeds and more reliable connections for multiple users. Individual Wi-Fi networks also have the ability to scale rapidly by adding additional networks or speed to support greater bandwidth. This is especially worthwhile in the occasion that a large group of people is gathered in one place.
Wi-Fi Powered Phones – There is now a market for cost-effective providers who offer phones that rely on Wi-Fi connections. Companies such as Republic Wireless and FreedomPop are offering plans that employ Wi-Fi as default and then back up the coverage with a traditional cell network.
Cost – Wi-Fi phone plans are significantly less expensive than traditional data plans, which can cost over $100 per month for a basic data plan. Because of Wi-Fi availability, companies are now able to offer data plans beginning at as little as $5 per month. Budget providers are also partnering with brand-name companies to offer inexpensive phones with the credibility of a “big-name” brand.