electronics, telecommunications

Different Demos Use Wireless, Cellular Data Differently

Not all the information coming through a mobile device is the same. Some of it comes from public or private WiFi sources, while some comes from cellular towers. Different consumers, it turns out, use these sources differently. 

Insights uncovered by Nielsen’s Mobile Performance Panel find that not all demographics or geographic regions use wireless data to the same extent. Young Millennials (18-24 years old), for instance, are heavy users of WiFi data, while those who are 25-34 use the most cellular data. 

U.S. Hispanics, meanwhile, are the heaviest data users among all multicultural groups, with more than a third of their data usage coming from cellular data. Asian-Americans are the second-heaviest users of WiFi use, while African-Americans use more cellular data. 

“With these unique characteristics in mind, networks should design and market data plans desirable to multicultural segments of the population,” according to a Nielsen blog post covering the findings.



Geographically, consumers on New York, Boston and Washington D.C. — where public WiFi is more common — are lesser users of cellular data, while urban areas with heavy traffic commuters (Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas) consume more cellular data than average. Consumers in warmer climates use more cellular data and less WiFi than those in cooler areas, presumably because they’re out and about, away from home WiFi networks. 

According to Nielsen, 6.6% of Android users were hit with data overage charges in the second quarter of 2016, which in turn has led them to use 3 times as much WiFi data as cellular. These charges can hit carriers hard, as 10% of consumers who exceed their monthly data limits consider switching to another provider for a better deal.

“With data at a premium these days, consumers are finding ways to make their mobile phones work for them,” according to the post. “The rise in public Wi-Fi hotspots and changing data plans will continue to diversify the mobile marketplace.”

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