Will Unlimited Data Plans Make Wi-Fi Obsolete?

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I didn’t think of this until I was in a Starbucks a few weeks ago. I sometimes go in on a Saturday morning to read and write. It helps me see what’s going on in the world outside of technology, although Starbucks is a shining example of how to use tech in retail. They use apps, automated ordering, track orders, data analytics to track consumer purchases, and so on. Sorry, my point is that they are heavy tech users that also have Wi-Fi in their stores to draw people in.

While I was in there, one girl had trouble connecting to the Wi-Fi. She was trying to use the app to pay for her coffee. I paid for her because I could tell she was in a hurry. She thanks me but like all of us, stood there for another 5 minutes trying to figure out why the Wi-Fi didn’t connect automatically.

I helped her out, and it connected. Not sure why it didn’t’ connect automatically, but then someone came up to her and said, “Why do you even use Wi-Fi anymore?” in which she replied, “What do you mean?”

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Then the girl said, “Since I got unlimited data, I don’t bother with Wi-Fi, it only slows me down. I use LTE for everything.

I said, “LTE, you actually know it’s LTE?”

“Yes, it says so right here,” pointing to her T-Mobile device. “Wherever I have coverage, I use T-Mobile, it works great, and it’s so fast that I use it for Facebook, Starbucks, and everything.”Small Cell Cover 4

The other girl said, “Really, does it work everywhere?”

Yes, everywhere I go, and if I need Wi-Fi, I just turn it on, but most times it just slows me down.”

OK, you get the idea. My point is that millennials are relying more and more on the carriers that have unlimited data. The speeds are there for those users of smart devices. They don’t like having to go through a long connect period of Wi-Fi. They want seamless coverage.

This is interesting for 2 reasons. 1) Millennials are relying less on Wi-Fi for coverage and more on the carrier’s coverage, whether it’s LTE or soon to be 5G. 2) Carriers will need better indoor coverage if they wish this trend to continue.official logo

Do the carriers want to get people to use their systems more and more? Unlimited data will push users in that direction. Maybe they no longer want to offload data. It could be that they now want to keep everyone on their network, end to end, for streaming, apps, online commerce, entertainment, and so on. This is where they could add value now that 5G is coming out and that LTE speeds are blazing faster and faster every day. Once we have the new 5G spectrum, will we still need Wi-Fi or our cable modems for that matter?

You see where this is going, right? He who owns the network controls the end users purchasing habits! I often feel this is where cable has failed; they limited what they offer. Carriers may soon have full control over all that rely on their smartphone for everything.



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