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Over three quarters (78%) of internet access by UK Android smartphone users is conducted via Wi-Fi rather than cellular networks, according to a report from Nielsen.

The report also found that mobile internet access over Wi-Fi varies throughout the day with this activity peaking between 11pm and midnight.

Similarly, internet access over cellular networks peaks just before office hours begin, reaches similar levels during lunchtime, and then rises again during rush hour as commuters use their phones to access the internet on their way home.

Nielsen’s findings were the first produced using Nielsen’s “on device metering data” and were taken during September this year, which found that mobile internet usage peaks during evening hours, see chart below for a more detailed breakdown.

Source: Nielsen

Further inspection of the data revealed that during these hours mobile internet access via cellular networks decreased by more than 55%.

However, when factoring in smartphone users’ internet access via Wi-Fi, it actually increases by almost 30% according to the data from Nielsen, which measures smartphone usage at device level from a panel of over 1,500 UK Android users.

David Gosen, Nielsen’s European managing director for digital, said, “The implications for all stakeholders in the industry are enormous in terms of being able to show the total level of demand for mobile data, the drivers of that usage, and how it varies by operator and application type.”

Nielsen’s smartphone analytics report differs from ComScore’s Mobile Media Metrics (MMM), produced in association with the GSMA, which documents aggregated mobile internet usage from mobile operator log data, i.e. over cellular networks.

This was initially soft-launched in early 2010 in a bid to establish an universal mobile ad-planning currency but media buyers had initially criticised MMM’s lack of mobile media consumption over Wi-Fi.

Although ComScore has worked with leading media owners to tag their websites so it can assess sites visited by mobile internet users over Wi-Fi networks and has since started aggregating this into the MMM product (nma.co.uk 12 Oct 2011).  

Both sources of data are likely to become increasingly useful to advertisers looking to capitalise on the growing trend towards “dual screening”, i.e. people accessing the internet via a connected device while watching the television (nma.co.uk 26 Sep 2012).   

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Published 15 November, 2012 by NMA Staff

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