Based off a year-long study conducted by The NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence, the percentage of tablet owners that utilize Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet has increased over 2011. During April 2011, 60 percent of tablet owners stated that they only use Wi-Fi to go online, but only five percent had plans to invest in a mobile 3G broadband plan within the following six months. By October 2011, Wi-Fi only users had grown to 65 percent while users that utilize both Wi-Fi and cellular data, users that only use cellular data and users that don’t use any Internet connection shrunk.
According to VP of Connected Intelligence Eddie Hold, he stated “Concern over the high cost of cellular data plans is certainly an issue, but more consumers are finding that Wi-Fi is available in the majority of locations where they use their tablets, providing them ‘good enough’ connectivity. In addition, the vast majority of tablet users already own a smartphone, which fulfills the ‘must have’ connectivity need.” According to a study conducted by market research company Informa Telecoms and Media, the amount of public Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to skyrocket by 350 percent over the next four years and will likely reach nearly six million hotspots.
Tablet owners are going to have less of a reason to purchase expensive cellular data plans as the amount of Wi-Fi locations increase over time. Cellular companies are also likely having a difficult time convincing smartphone owners to purchase a second data plan for a tablet. Owners of the 3G-enabled version of the iPad 2 have to pay between $15 (250MB) to $25 (2GB) a month for service with an additional $10 for each gigabyte beyond that cap. Verizon Wireless users can choose from a 2GB plan for $30, a 5GB plan for $50 or a 10GB plan for $80 a month. Similar to AT&T, each additional gigabyte beyond the cap costs an additional $10 a month.