Tablet owners are shunning 3G and loving Wi-Fi

Upcoming Android tablets

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.  

Amazon-Kindle-FireAccording 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.