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Test by Deutsche Telekom shows Wi-Fi not a big help for unloading cellular traffic

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Test by Deutsche Telekom shows Wi-Fi not a big help for unloading cellular traffic
A test conducted last year by German telecom giant Deutsche Telekom, revealed that Wi-Fi might not be the perfect solution for offloading cellular traffic as a means to lessen heavy congestion on cellular networks. Dr. Matthias Siebert, who works in the Europe and Technology group of the company, addressed the crowd at the Wi-Fi Offload conference and discussed tests it performed in Hamburg and Rotterdam.

The tests involved the creation of "hot zones" in which smartphone users could switch from 3G or 4G service to Wi-Fi. Surprisingly, when the Wi-Fi service was available, the traffic on the cellular network barely moved lower. In some cases, the traffic on the cellular pipeline rose during the test. Deutsche Telekom blames this on the different way smartphone users act in the presence of a Wi-Fi signal. Knowing that using data won't count against their monthly allowance in the face of a Wi-Fi signal is a big factor, leading to the use of more data. Some apps will only fully work over Wi-Fi. If there is no room on the Wi-Fi network, data cannot be offloaded to it from the cellular network.

Some criticized Deutsche Telekom and the study, arguing that the carrier is afraid of losing control over its cellular customers when they are using Wi-Fi. Deutsche Telekom says it will commit to doing further testing. For example, the test that was conducted concentrated on outdoor use of mobile networks, not indoor use where a Wi-Fi signal might be more useful. In addition, the Wi-Fi network was not set as the preferred network for the testing.

"Can Wi-Fi fulfill this promise of relieving cellular networks? That is not shown here. Wi-Fi is not the solution for offload, but it has other interesting features."-Dr. Matthias Siebert, Deutsche Telekom

Using Wi-Fi to offload cellular traffic can prove a dilemma to carriers. Reducing the amount of traffic on its network can help a mobile operator reduce its cost, but at the same time, getting its customers to use its network more can help the carrier increase the Average Revenue Per User.

source: FierceWirelessEurope

2 Comments
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posted on 28 Jan 2014, 08:03

1. ibap (Posts: 706; Member since: 09 Sep 2009)


And what about those of us that live in, or pass through, areas where the cell signal is dicey anyway?

posted on 28 Jan 2014, 11:09

2. Augustine (Posts: 776; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


If it's anything like in the US in Europe, where you are required to agree with a legal contract in order to be able to use an open WiFi network, it's no surprise. I only resort to WiFi if I have no cell signal or the battery is low, but I dread to have to open the browser in order to use mobile apps.

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