A new study by WIK and Aegis, funded by the European Commission, highlights the importance of Wi-Fi for connecting EU citizens to the Internet. In 2012 71% of all wireless data traffic that was delivered to smartphones and tablets in the EU was delivered via Wi-Fi. It is estimated that this figure will grow to 78% by 2016. It is predicted that in 2016 up to €200 billion in network cost reductions can be expected from data traffic offloading chiefly to Wi-Fi.
Mobile data traffic is estimated to grow at 66% annually for the period 2012-2017, but at the same time almost 80% of all traffic to mobile devices is predicted to come over Wi-Fi. The reason: most smartphone use occurs at home or in the office. The study points out that EU countries like the UK, France or Germany have among the highest household penetration of Wi-Fi in the world; however other countries are not so well covered.
For the study, data traffic off-loading was defined as routing wireless data that could be served by long-range cellular networks over so called "small-areas access points" (LTE or Wi-Fi). Smart phones and tablets can connect to such alternative access network technologies, which use local coverage and can operate in frequencies that may not be exclusively accessible by one network operator.
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