WiFi usage down marginally in weeks starting March 9, shows Opensignal data

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Published: April 4, 2020 5:30:47 AM

The decrease in WiFi usage can also be attributed to people staying at homes.

The decrease in WiFi usage can also be attributed to people staying at homes.

With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced people across the globe to work from home, time spent on WiFi increased significantly in European countries and North America. But in India, it was the opposite and in fact, WiFi usage decreased marginally in the weeks starting from March 9.

As per data shared by mobile analytics firm Opensignal, in India the percentage of time spent by smartphone users on WiFi has decreased to 9.8% in the March 16-22 week, compared to 11% in January 13-19, 2020. It must be mentioned that March 22 saw a Janata curfew and as per various telcos, mobile data consumption peaked on that day as people stayed indoors.

Analysts in the telecom industry say that India is primarily a mobile-first country and the majority of people use internet on wireless networks. As per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), as on December 2019, India had a total of 661.94 broadband customers, of which 642.19 million were wireless broadband users while only 19.14 million used wired broadband.

The decrease in WiFi usage can also be attributed to people staying at homes. As per analysts, in India, WiFi is mostly found in public places like railway stations, shopping areas and offices and not at homes. “The miniscule number of wired broadband connections explain that people depend on mobile networks for their data needs,” said an executive with one of the telecom firms.

The executive further said low tariffs for mobile data is another reason people don’t opt for wired broadband, as all their needs are met at much lower costs. In contrast, in Western countries, people have access to wired broadband and have WiFi at home. With the Covid-19 pandemic, as more people are working from home, time spent on WiFi has also increased. As per Opensignal, in Spain, time spent on WiFi increased to 73.1% for the March 16-22 week as compared to 61.9% in the January 6-12 week. Spain is one of the countries hardest hit by Covid-19 in Europe, after Italy, which saw time spent on Wifi rise to 59.2% from 51.2% in the same period.

“Our analysis shows that time on WiFi increased significantly on a week-on-week basis in the third week of March in many countries in Northern America and Europe, as well as in Australia, Argentina, Peru and Brazil,” Opensignal said. In contrast to many other countries, Opensignal did not detect a statistically significant week-on-week increase in the percentage of time Indian smartphone users have spent on WiFi between the second week of January and the third week of March.

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