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Report: Wi-Fi scores well in hometowns, but work a challenge

Wed, 05/22/2013 - 12:24pm
Mike Robuck

According to a recent study by Wi-Fi vendor Ubiquiti Networks, Wi-Fi users are generally pleased with how their networks perform in their hometowns, but not so much in their work environments.

The study found that 48 percent of the users surveyed gave their Wi-Fi a “B” grade for its general availably and performance in their hometowns. But when they were asked how they felt about Wi-Fi in the workplace, 70 percent said that productivity suffered when Wi-Fi wasn’t available. At the workplace, 52 percent indicated that work-essential apps often weren’t  available due to poor Wi-Fi availability or reliability.

In the work environment, 71 percent agreed they would use more demanding apps, such as video and chat, if faster Wi-Fi services were more widely available.

“Wi-Fi has become a must-have capability for mobile workers—it’s impacting revenue and worker productivity for businesses of all types and sizes,” said David Hsieh, chief marketing officer for Ubiquiti Networks. “Increasingly powerful mobile device capabilities mean user needs are outpacing existing networks in terms of accessibility, dependability and performance.”

Of the 84 percent that reported having Wi-Fi at work, 44 percent give their employers a B grade for its availability and performance.

The cities with highest satisfaction, in order, were:

• Minneapolis

• Los Angeles, Detroit (tied)

•  San Francisco

• Seattle

• New York, Washington, D.C., Houston, Orlando

The cities that scored the lowest grades were:

• Sacramento, Denver, Boston, Philadelphia

• Cleveland

• Dallas, Chicago

• Tampa Bay

• Atlanta

According to Ubiquiti’s study, 78 percent of mobile workers said Wi-Fi services influenced which hotels, restaurants and other businesses they choose to conduct their business in.

When ranked by industry, advertising/marketing/PR, agriculture, insurance, telecommunications, and technology scored the highest marks. Transportation, government, automotive, retail and food services scored the lowest.

“The accelerating demand for Wi-Fi everywhere means businesses need to plan for the future,” Hsieh said. “Emerging standards such as 802.11ac that provide Gigabit performance are essential to keep up with the growing number of bandwidth-hungry mobile devices and applications that are required to complete critical job functions.”

Last year Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision and Bright House Networks forged a roaming pact that allows their subscribers to access Wi-Fi hotspots throughout each other’s networks. 

Earlier this year, the NCTA said that more than 100,000 hotspots were live across the nation’s top-six cable operator’s footprints that were part of the roaming agreement. Since 1996, cable operators have spent $200 billon on Wi-Fi related networks and infrastructure.

As of last month, Cablevision had 75,000 access points live in its New York metro footprint after first launching Wi-Fi in 2008. 

Some cable operators are going all-in on Wi-Fi as a means to reduce customer churn without having to build more expensive 3G or 4G networks of their own. With Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications partnering up with Verizon Wireless, the cable operators were able to offer quad plays to their customers while adding their own Wi-Fi hotspots.

Earlier this year, Time Warner Cable said it was working on doubling its Wi-Fi hotspots – with an emphasis in New York City where it competes with Verizon – after adding around 10,000 access points last year. 

Time Warner Cable has offered up its Wi-Fi service, which is called TWC WiFi, for free in Kansas City and Austin where it competes with Google Fiber’s services. 

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