Opensignal analysts detailed a rise in the amount of time global smartphone users spent connected to Wi-Fi in recent weeks, but noted the change had not necessarily reduced mobile network burdens.
New data showed many countries experienced large spikes in Wi-Fi usage around the middle of March, when many governments implemented restrictions intended to curb the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus) which forced people to stay at home.
But Opensignal VP of analysis Ian Fogg told Mobile World Live the increases had not reduced use of mobile data. In Italy, for example, he noted mobile data rates had dropped in-line with a rise in Wi-Fi, suggesting traffic on cellular networks remained high.
“There’s a lot of people who say it’s either Wi-Fi or cellular, but actually the answer is both are really important. It’s not an either or choice. At a time like this, everything gets used more.”
The company mapped Wi-Fi usage by smartphone users in 26 countries from the second week of 2020 (6 January to 12 January) until the week ending 22 March.
Its analysis showed time spent on Wi-Fi in Hong Kong, one of the first territories to implement a lockdown, increased from 55.3 per cent in the week ending 12 January, to 60.3 per cent in the week to 22 March. In the Philippines, the figure grew from 52.3 per cent to 63.3 per cent, one of the largest rises in the Asia region.
In EMEA, Spain racked up the largest increase, from 61.9 per cent to 73.1 per cent. Figures for Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, rose from 51.2 per cent to 59.2 per cent.
Argentina took the top spot in South and Central America, both in terms of overall time spent on Wi-Fi and increase over time: usage there grew from 63.9 per cent to 72.5 per cent.
In North America, however, only Canada registered any meaningful rise, up from 69.9 per cent to 76.3 per cent. The US registered a 3.7 per cent increase to 59.9 per cent.