Q&A: What Canadians Want from Wi-Fi and Mobile

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Stuart Taylor, from the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), to discuss the results of the recent Cisco IBSG research on What Canadians Want from Wi-Fi and Mobile.  The study was conducted in five countries – Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Brazil – and gives valuable insight into the mindset of mobile users. Stuart was in Canada to share the results with service providers and to help them get a better grasp on the needs and attitudes of their customers. Luckily, Stuart was able to take some time from his busy schedule to talk with me. You can read my conversation with Stuart below.

Mark Kummer: Overall, what did the study tell you about Canadians and mobile devices?

Stuart Taylor: Canadians own an average of 2.4 mobile devices, almost all of which are Wi-Fi enabled. Canadians spend an average of 2.8 hours per day using their mobile devices in their homes, compared to only 0.5 hours per day in a typical “mobile” on-the-go world.

Mark: So clearly Canadians love their mobile devices. What about how they connect?

Stuart: The study revealed that mobile users connect their devices predominantly via Wi-Fi, including 75 per cent of smartphone owners.  In fact, on average, smartphone users use Wi-Fi one-third of the time to connect their devices to the Internet, with the remaining of the connection time being over mobile networks.

Mark: So it’s safe to say Wi-Fi is a hit in Canada?

Stuart: Definitely. In fact, Canadians told us that they prefer Wi-Fi to mobile for connecting their mobile devices. The feedback we received indicates they find Wi-Fi superior or equal to mobile connectivity across all attributes, even including security and ease of use.  Coverage is the only place where mobile has a lead in the consumers’ mind, but even that may be changing as one-third of Canadian mobile users now use a public hotspot at least on a weekly basis.

Mark: So what would Canadians like to see with regards to Wi-Fi?

Stuart: It seems Canadians are content with coverage in first tier locations such as coffee shops, hotels and restaurants but are now looking for Wi-Fi to be just as pervasive in other places they frequent. Parks, bus stops, retail stores, and shopping malls and hospitals top the list of additional locations where Canadians would like to be able to access Wi-Fi.

Mark: So, with that in mind, what do you think the future has in store for Canadian mobility?

Stuart: The results of the IBSG study have allowed us to make the following five predictions for the Canadian market:

1. Mobile will become one of the primary ways people access entertainment.

Within the next two years:
– 70 per cent of mobile users will access social networks
– More than 50 per cent of mobile users will watch streamed and recorded videos
– Up to 50 per cent of mobile users will read eBooks

2. Home will continue to dominate other locations for mobile device usage.

In the next two years, more than 50 per cent of all mobile device usage will occur in the home.

3. Devices will also get “out of the house,” with increased usage in public spaces.

In the next two years, 15 per cent of all mobile device usage will occur in retail and public locations.

4. Wi-Fi will become the predominant access technology for smartphones.

Within the next two years:
– More than 70 per cent of smartphones will regularly use Wi-Fi
– Smartphone owners will use Wi-Fi almost 50 percent of the time to connect to the Internet

5. While smartphone penetration will continue to increase, much of the growth of mobile devices will come from nomadic devices.

In the next two years:
– 25 per cent of consumers will have eReaders
– 33 per cent will have tablets

Mark: What can Canadian service providers learn from these results?

Stuart: As demand for mobile devices and network connectivity continues to grow, both Wi-Fi and traditional mobile networks will be critical in meeting the needs of consumers. Service providers are in an enviable position of being able to successfully integrate these networks and the experience of their customers to provide what the market wants: New Mobile. For example, we’re advising service providers to consider the following to position themselves to effectively capture Wi-Fi opportunities:

– Incorporate Wi-Fi as an integral part of the portfolio
– Target Wi-Fi use in the home
– Explore new ways to make money from Wi-Fi
– Deliver on the New Mobile.

There is a tremendous opportunity for service providers in Canada but the key is having a clear understanding of the market and how it is changing, and formulating a suitable strategy.

My thanks go to Stuart for sharing his thoughts with us. Full results of the survey, including those for the four other countries, can be downloaded here

About Mark Kummer

As Vice President, Service Provider Canada, Mark Kummer is responsible for all sales and support for Cisco’s service provider business in Canada, serving telecommunications service providers, cable companies, Internet service providers, wireless providers, and utilities. A 20-year veteran of the information technology and communications industry, Kummer has extensive experience within the global service provider community that spans from infrastructure to managed service sales. Kummer has served on the board of the European Competitive Telecoms Association and actively participated in forums to engage UK service provider bodies and regulators. Kummer holds a bachelors degree in engineering from King’s College at the University of London, and a masters’ degree in engineering from London University’s Imperial College. En tant que vice-président, Fournisseur de services pour le Canada, Mark Kummer est responsable de toutes les ventes et du soutien offert aux fournisseurs de services de Cisco au Canada, notamment aux fournisseurs de services de télécommunications, aux entreprises de câblodistribution, aux fournisseurs de services Internet et sans fil et aux services publics. Fort de 20 années d’expérience dans l’industrie des technologies de l’information (TI) et des communications, M. Kummer possède une vaste connaissance de la communauté globale de fournisseurs de services, et ce, dans divers domaines allant de l’infrastructure jusqu’aux ventes des services gérés. M. Kummer a été membre du conseil de l’European Competitive Telecoms Association (ECTA) et a participle activement à des forums visant à inciter la participation des organes de contrôle et des organismes de réglementation des fournisseurs de services au Royaume-Uni. Il est titulaire d’un baccalauréat en génie du King’s College, à l’University of London, et d’une maîtrise en génie de l’Imperial College de la London University.
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