Market research firm Parks Associates seems to think so. According to the company, global revenues of mobile data will grow from $386 billion in 2015 to $630 billion by the end of this decade. Parks Associates reckons that most of the growth will occur in mobile markets in the Asia/Pacific region. However for mobile markets in North America and Western Europe, the growth will be shackled, mainly due to the more and more mobile users preferring non-cellular tech in order to avoid costly mobile bills.
Parks Associates stated that an estimated 70 percent of mobile users in the United States have expressed interest in availing of Wi-Fi only data plans. A number of cable operators recently have ramped up their efforts to promote their respective Wi-Fi hotspot offers in order to get prospective customers to go for Wi-Fi instead of cellular.
Via a released statement, Harry Wang of Parks Associates explained that the advent of the concept of the Internet of Things has various wireless carriers looking forward to the prospect making even more money by complementing cellular data revenues with earnings from facilitating connected devices. But as 5G tech looms in the not too distant future (industry watchers believe the technology will be widely available to mobile users around the world by 2020), mobile operators will find themselves facing a lot of changes as they prepare their network infrastructure for the coming of 5G. There is no doubt that the Internet of Things will increase sales of mobile data, but in the process of establishing specific networks for connected devices, there may be a risk of spreading themselves too thin.
Meanwhile, Wi-Fi only data plans will become more popular too as more mobile users buy into the Internet of Things, and this may prove dangerous to wireless carriers’ cellular data offerings. It is no secret that major cable companies like Charter Communications and Comcast are looking to enter into the wireless business, and leveraging their respective MVNO deals is the key. If successful, they could produce lots and lots of public Wi-Fi hotspots in less than five years time. Also, the possibility of Comcast buying some 600 MegaHertz spectrum from the FCC’s reverse auction could threaten cellular carriers’ plans.
Still, it is not an easy road for cable companies. First of all, they do not have their own network infrastructure, so they may have to resort to infrastructure owned by the very companies they are trying to compete against. But if mobile users develop a major liking for Wi-Fi in the years to come, the competition between wireless carriers’ cellular data and cable companies’ Wi-Fi may not be that one sided.
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