An executive at the Wi-Fi connectivity firm iPass said her company's research indicates that MetroPCS (NAS: PCS) may be offloading as much as 20 percent of its cellular traffic onto Wi-Fi networks. During an interview with FierceWireless, iPass CTO Barbara Nelson said some operators are unwilling to offload traffic to Wi-Fi unless they own the network, while others, such as MetroPCS, are offloading a significant amount of traffic to Wi-Fi now. "Although they are not broadcasting it, we estimate 20 percent of MetroPCS' traffic is offloaded to Wi-Fi," Nelson said.
MetroPCS would not confirm the iPass statistic. However spokesman Drew Crowell said the firm is "encouraged by what we are seeing with traffic offloaded to Wi-Fi."
In December, MetroPCS announced that its new Android-powered smartphones would automatically link to Wi-Fi hotspots. Specifically, the company said that the Huawei Ascent and LG Optimus M devices would be preloaded with Devicescape and Boingo clients, which can link customers' smartphones to Wi-Fi hotspots without users having to search, log in or instigate the connection.
Although 20 percent of traffic may seem like a high number, Monica Paolini, a consultant with Senza Fili Consulting, said that it really isn't because heavy users are those who seek out the Wi-Fi hotspots or use Wi-Fi where available, and it only takes the top 10 or 20 percent of users to use Wi-Fi heavily enough to get to that 20 percent figure or even exceed it.
She also said that much of the Wi-Fi offload traffic isn't necessarily on public hotspots but instead in home or office Wi-Fi networks. "The peak hour in data consumption is at 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. at night -- and most people are at home," Paolini said. "It is reasonable to assume that many are using Wi-Fi then, as it does not count towards their [data] caps and it's usually faster" than the cellular network.
At the time thisarticle was published Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.