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As phone carriers get faster and faster data speeds over cellular, might they just stop putting in the radio for Wi-Fi? Convince me otherwise please. Oh, and the data use limits seem better these days.

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    You’re clearly not Canadian - carrier prices and data caps and coverage are generally horrendous. Everyone I know here uses WiFi when they get the chance. When some one comes over to my apartment for the first time the first exchange is usually my WiFi password for their phone.

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      Or American in a large swath of America. Most of us keep WiFi on much as possible.

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        As a Canadian, it’s the same situation - at least my internet plan at home is unlimited.

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          Same for the UK – recently, a bus company upgraded their buses in the local area to have a WiFi network for passengers, and plenty of other bus companies and trains do the same. My friends tend to go to cafes and restaurants for the free wifi too, so I don’t think it’ll go away here for a while unless things drastically change.

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              To be fair, its really just our telecom that is lacking.

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            My knee-jerk reaction is: no, Wi-Fi isn’t going away. But let me present a few Interesting Facts™ about the state of the internet today:

            • 65% of all internet users are from developing countries.
            • This percentage will increase dramatically in the next 5 years — usage in developing countries is growing 100x faster than in developed countries.
            • 70% of users in developing countries rely on cellular data alone (no WiFi!) to access the internet.
            • This number is lower in developed countries (10%-20%) but is increasing rapidly.

            Taking these trends into consideration, it’s not so far-fetched to imagine a world without Wi-Fi.

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              Where are these facts from?

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                Username checks out. :P

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                  If this sort of thing interests you and you have 25 minutes to spare, this talk by Tal Oppenheimer contains these facts and many more! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmg1ECC2r2Q

                  Edit: if you don’t have much time, here are some bits I found:

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                  On the other hand, these people from developing countries probably don’t have access to super-fast LTE either, so having access to Wi-Fi would be an improvement for them.

                  This number is lower in developed countries (10%-20%) but is increasing rapidly.

                  Where do these numbers come from? They seem pretty high given that free Wi-Fi is everywhere nowadays. Are there any “heavy” internet users in that group or is it just people who replaced SMS with WhatsApp and aren’t even aware they’re on the internet now? Those people never really needed Wi-Fi anyways.

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                    You would be quite surprised. I’m in Kenya now and the 4G here is quite a bit better than my Sprint/Tmobile connection was in the US.

                    It’s kind of weird that in a rural Kenyan farm, where maybe 4 people in range of the cell tower have smartphones, I can get 4g.

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                    Even if your numbers are accurate, you could just as easily theorise that WiFi usage will increase in developing countries as demand grows.

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                    I really doubt that wifi chips will be dropped from phones. At least here in Europe (more specifically: Germany), mobile internet is still volume-capped (after reaching the limit it will drop down to GPRS/Edge speeds) and real infinite flatrates just aren’t available.

                    Usual tariffs start at 1 or 1,5Gb and go up to maybe 15, with prices starting at 10EUR for 3Gb or. Some providers (looking at you, Telekom) are prohibitively expensive and are actually dropping net neutrality (by excluding for example Youtube and their own music streaming) from the data caps.

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                      Any US user who needs to roam will quickly discover the cost reasons to revert to WiFi as much as possible :) I was just in Romania and while getting a local SIM seemed relatively inexpensive, the overall performance for tethering wasn’t great so finding WiFi was a life-saver.

                      I’ve been to Morocco and Turkey and the cellular performance was even patchier. They were using a WiFi for all of their streaming needs (which is why I question the other comment about “70% relying on cellular”), but seemed to have more cellular-friendly sites and SMS-based services than we have in the US.

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                        Any US user who needs to roam will quickly discover the cost reasons to revert to WiFi as much as possible :)

                        Not if you switch to Google Fi! They charge the same in every country. Join today and help make Google’s stranglehold on the Internet of today even greater! ;)

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                          You’re right. Even in Germany the mobile internet coverage is spotty at best. You can really only depend on it in bigger cities (but not too big or during sport or other events because then it’ll break down).

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                            Indeed. We live in (somewhat) rural Germany. 3G reception here is very spotty. If I couldn’t use home Wifi on my phone, I simply wouldn’t buy it.

                            (Our home connection is 200/20MBit.)

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                        Absolutely not. Ever heard of WiFi offload?

                        Actually WiFi is very useful to reduce the load of the cellular networks in very crowded environments.

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                          I’d be really angry if suddenly I had to use phone with no Wi-Fi. I live in London, UK and the signal can be far from great even in the city centre. Sometimes there is a massive congestion on the network and the speed of the transmission drops significantly (your phone might still say the signal is great). What often saves me are Wi-Fi hotspots in public places (often managed by broadband providers, I use the ones from BT).

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                            I really doubt that anyone would want a phone with no wi-fi. If it were the case that you have absolute 4G LTE coverage everywhere you go(with the right modem to support the different frequencies in different parts of the world) and have no data cap at an affordable price, then maybe.

                            I don’t know about other people, but if a phone has no Wi-Fi chip on it, I’m not going to even consider it.

                            Do you have any examples of manufacturers not putting a Wi-Fi chip in a phone nowadays?

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                              I think you are way, way off. Cellular data is still quite expensive even though it’s cheaper than it was. WiFi is almost free and almost as widely available as cellular data unless you’re actually driving in a car or something.

                              WiFi is also still much faster than LTE, and in a lot of places more reliable.

                              If carriers actually built phones, sure they would have all the reason in the world to get rid of the WiFi radios. But they don’t. The phone manufacturers would be shooting themselves in the foot to drop the WiFi radios.

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                                I decreasingly often bother to log in to public wifi with my phone when out, but I’d still not buy a phone without wifi at all, because I find it very useful at home. I use the home wifi connection to sync photos, download Android and app updates, etc, all of which offloads a large percentage of my monthly data usage.

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                                  Okay, let me ask you two questions:

                                  1. Are you living in the US? (or: any other country that has real mobile flat rates)

                                  2. Have you ever left the country?

                                  So the situation is like this: In large parts of the world getting unlimited mobile Internet isn’t cheap or simply impossible. I’m from Germany, there are no mobile flat rates here.

                                  The second thing you have to realize: It’s very common - pretty much the default - that you can’t use your mobile data in other countries without paying extra. This will hopefully end within the EU. But I don’t see it ending internationally any time soon. I am not even aware that anyone is even trying to start any political initiatives to end roaming fees (it was hard enough in the EU and I’m still wondering what kind of catches there are). So for a long time the situation will be: Out of your home country == no or expensive mobile Internet. You can get a local sim, but it’s annoying.

                                  Finally: There are still enough places with really bad mobile internet connections. No, not just in the himalayas or other remote areas. Enough of them are in the eastern part of Germany.

                                  Yes, all these things may change. Maybe one day we have good mobile connections everywhere, no roaming costs and real flatrates everywhere. Maybe then Wifi will go away. But it’s not going to happen any time soon.

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                                    it was hard enough in the EU and I’m still wondering what kind of catches there are

                                    Some carriers already started offering EU roaming (like Fyve in Germany) and in my experience it works fine. Of course, one hop in Switzerland and you are still paying through the nose. (I checked, because I had to transfer there this week.)

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                                    By the same measure, wifi speeds are getting faster too. Also, power consumption is less on wifi.

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                                      Wifi has several benefits over a cellular data connection:

                                      • Local access: a lot of functionality will be lost without WiFi (e.g. I use my iphone/ipad as AppleTV remotes sometimes). No sane person will expose all of those things to the Internet, and requiring a VPN back into your own WiFi network is just ridiculous.

                                      • Data limits: my wired internet access has 0 data transfer limit. None, at all, I just pay for whatever speed connection I want/is available in my area. My 4G connection has a limit, after which it becomes throttled to 128K or similar.

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                                        Consumers buy devices based on features and buzzwords and little icons on the packaging. A wifi radio costs pennies and scarcely more than 1mm³. Says the salesman: “Well, this one supports Wifi and DLNA so you can use it as a controller for lots of smart TVs, and this other one does not”.

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                                          Data is extremely expensive in Australia, so no, no time soon.

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                                            One obvious problem area for cellular signal coverage is inside office buildings where external radio signals don’t penetrate particularly well. It’s much easier for a business to arrange internal wifi coverage than it would be to pull in cellular signal (for all the cellular providers), and there’s a lot of older buildings around which were not built to be radio transparent.

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                                              The only way I can see a phone manufacturer doing that is if they have no interest in selling their phone in the United States. I guess it could happen, though.

                                              I don’t know anybody, on any carrier, who gets good enough cell coverage here in Colorado that they would be okay giving up Wi-Fi. On Sprint there are entire (smaller) towns where I can barely even make a phone call a lot of the time. Different carriers have better or worse coverage in each city, but none of them have great coverage everywhere.

                                              I looked at switching carriers a few months ago, and at that time Sprint was the only one offering an unlimited data plan without stupid shit like ATT’s hotspot throttling, “Video saver” and DirectTV bundling.

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                                                One thing I did not see in the existing comments is that cellular data currently consumes more power. With phones, battery life is still one of the biggest challenges that manufacturers have to deal with, so it seems unlikely to go away any time soon.

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                                                  I live on the South Coast of England and for me mobile connection is totally patchy.

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                                                    My best guess is that if wifi would go away, or someone would release a phone without wifi it’s really likely that they’d sell it a lot less. Or at least that’s what I hope, cause even though in an area with really good and cheap data access (3G everywhere starting at around $10/month) I still mostly use wifi and plan to continue to do so.

                                                    So I find it highly unlikely for this to change in the near future.

                                                    Also I think people will continue to have non-cloud-only steaming things going on and maybe with the rise of IoT solutions where you have to or want to be in the same network will rise.