Over 78.6 million Mexicans who connect to the internet via their mobile phones or tablets resort to Wi-Fi, according to a study by the telecommunications consultancy The Competitive Intelligence Unit (CIU). Despite the rapid growth of mobile broadband, Wi-Fi technology remains the main means of internet access (representing 57.9 percent), mainly due to technological and economic factors. Last year, the number of mobile users in Mexico reached 107.8 million, of which 77.3 million were smartphone users. In addition, there were another 1.3 million users who only access the internet via Wi-Fi on tablets.
We have written previously about Wi-Fi as an ever-increasing presence in the mobile landscape, chiefly as a means of offloading traffic from overburdened cellular networks. We have also noted some changes in the way frequencies are allocated and used, which is some cases is leading to an interpenetration in which there is less meaningful distinction between cellular and Wi-Fi. However, this statistic from Mexico is an indicator not of technological advancement but of shortfall. Apparently Mexicans rely heavily on Wi-Fi for mobile internet because cellular service is not of sufficient quality and coverage to meet their needs, and in some cases because they cannot afford to buy enough data from their mobile operators. Disproportionate use of Wi-Fi may well mean that the mobile internet itself is underutilized in Mexico—a situation that MNOs should interpret as a call to upgrade their services and to make them more widely available and affordable.