A new study by the European Commission (EC), welcomed by Neelie Kroes, EU’s digital commissioner, recommends more spectrum be set aside for Wi-Fi to ease pressure on 3G and 4G networks.
The study argues that the combined use of Wi-Fi and other small cell infrastructures (which complement traditional macro cell mobile base stations) can relieve congestion on 3G/4G and so save operators “tens of billions of euros” as they upgrade networks to meet surging customer demand.
The report found that 71 per cent of all EU wireless data traffic in 2012 was delivered to smartphones and tablets using Wi-Fi, “possibly rising to 78 per cent by 2016”.
Consumers can also save money by using Wi-Fi instead of paying for mobile data when they are near a Wi-Fi hotspot.
“Wi-Fi is a huge success,” said Kroes. “It’s a win for everybody involved. I will make sure the European Commission helps to spread use of Wi-Fi through extra spectrum and lighter regulation.”
The EC study makes three main recommendations: to make spectrum from 5150MHz to 5925MHz available globally for Wi-Fi; to continue making the 2.6GHz and the 3.5GHz bands fully available for mobile use and to consult on future licensing options for 3.5GHz and other potential new licensed mobile frequency bands; and to reduce the administrative burden on the deployment of off-load services and networks in public locations.