The finding comes from Australian analyst firm Telstyte, which has published its 2014 ‘Australian Mobile Services Market Study 2014. The report covers the 12 months to December 2013.
Telsyte mobility analyst Alvin Lee says media tablets and other connected devices are increasingly embracing Wi-Fi networks in addition to cellular services. “Telcos have had some success with mobile Wi-Fi modems, but it is expected smartphone tethering will continue to disrupt this mark
“The opportunity for dedicated mobile broadband is diminishing even as mobile traffic continues to grow,” Lee says.
This disruption is creating opportunities for increased smartphone data pack sales, but public Wi-Fi hotspots are “sprouting like mushrooms and are now widely supported by local councils, shopping centres, local businesses and increasingly our transport networks.”
Lee says that for many people Wi-Fi tethering with a smartphone has replaced dedicated mobile broadband as they become more comfortable with tethering, or sharing the mobile Internet connection with other devices. Furthermore, accessories like smart watches are designed to connect to the Internet through wireless smartphone tethering.
Telsyte’s research indicates more than 80% of businesses with more than 20 employees operate Wi-Fi networks giving people’s devices access to the Internet at work.
With Wi-Fi enabled devices becoming ubiquitous, Telsyte believes telcos are currently only able to monetise 20% of the consumer media tablet market, as Australians are increasingly comfortable with Wi-Fi tablets and smartphone tethering.
Telcos are hoping mobile Wi-Fi modems will captivate users who have multiple devices and spend a lot of their time on the road. However, according to Telsyte’s research, tablet usage is still mainly at home.
The Australian mobile services market had nearly 31 million services in operation at the end of December 2013. Telsyte estimates 23% of all services are now running on 4G networks.
The Telsyte study is a bi-annual publication reporting on the local mobile services industry and subscriber trends for the last eight years. The report continues the year-over-year analysis with key market data, including market sizing and forecasts as well as individual carrier and MVNO performance reviews.