Europe loves Wi-Fi

European consumers really appreciate Wi-Fi. They make good use of it in their homes and offices – and in coffee shops, stations etc. when on the move. They appreciate it even more when travelling in other European countries, where they would otherwise have to pay significant data roaming charges (using 2.5, 3 and 4 G).

One European policymaker likes to give the example of a regular trip across Europe on which he likes to share photos and thoughts directly online with friends as his journey progresses. A few years ago, when only mobile broadband services were available (3G), he found that his mobile bill amounted to around 600 Euros. Now, thanks to the blossoming presence of Wi-Fi in coffee shops across Europe, his data charges have fallen to a mere 6 Euros.

A recent study ordered by the European Commission found that over 70% of data traffic to tablets and smartphones reaches the devices via Wi-Fi – the rest being carried by mobile broadband networks. The Wi-Fi share is set to grow as the total volume of traffic rises, substantially over the coming years. You can read a summary of findings from the study here and the full report here.

If you would like much greater detail on the Wi-Fi/mobile broadband data share, then the Mobidia whitepapers on this topic will not disappoint.

A related report on Carrier Wi-Fi® for mobile operators was produced by Monica Paolini, at Senza Fili, for the Wi-Fi Alliance. This illustrates the savings that operators can make when a greater share of the data traffic is carried over Wi-Fi, instead of having to provision greater capacity in the wide area network.

Chromecast - giving the TV some stick

With a growing range of television and other entertainment services now available online, viewers are increasingly expecting to have access to these via their television – instead of needed a laptop or other computer device. Services such as Netflix are designed for home entertainment, but many subscribers have been unable to access them via their television. Connected TV’s have support broadband connection, but require an Ethernet cable in many cases, reducing the chance that that they will actually be connected to the Internet. Even if a broadband connection has been made the particular TV model might not include the correct application (app) for the OTT service that the user want to use (e.g. Netflix).

A few months ago, Google announced its Chromecast product – which resembles an overgrown USB memory stick, but attaches to the HDMI socket of a television (or monitor presumably). It may not look significant, but its ability to turn a ‘dumb TV’ into a connected TV is no mean feat. All this for around US $35. It provides access to Netflix and a wide range of other popular OTT services, which should benefit from the power of this device to radically expand the market they can address.

Previous devices (such as Apple TV) have offered similar features, albeit slightly less open, but are larger and have not really made much of a dent on the huge population of unconnected televisions. An article providing more details on Chromecast appears on Amy Maclean’s blog (Cablefax.com). There’s no news on when the new devices will be available in Europe or at what price – although around €40 seems quite likely.