Does the Local Wi-Fi Environment Have a Significant Impact on Mobile Internet Usage?

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Findings

A recent study has found mobile Internet usage in Korea to be strongly influenced by the local Wi-Fi (wireless LAN) environment. According to Yonsei University’s Barun ICT Research Center, a comparative analysis of mobile Internet usage that holds user age constant reveals that Internet usage is higher in areas with a greater number of Wi-Fi zones. Although this theory has often been speculated in the past, this is the first time it has been proven with empirical data.

Specifically, when the number of Wi-Fi zones per area increased by one, the average mobile Internet usage per week increased by three minutes. PC Internet usage was also affected by the number of Wi-Fi zones, but the average usage time increased by only 28 seconds. Thus, Wi-Fi environment tends to have a greater impact on mobile usage than on PC usage.

In metropolitan areas (such as in Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi) where Wi-Fi is more prevalent, the average mobile Internet usage time per week (31 hours and 16 minutes) is about 2 hours and 18 minutes greater than in non-metropolitan areas (28 hours and 58 minutes). The number of WiFi zones per area is highest in Seoul with 100, followed by Busan with 21 and Gwangju with 20. In contrast, Gyeongbuk had 0.49, Chonnam 0.39, and Gangwon 0.32. The findings suggest that the vast disparity in the density of Wi-Fi zones between regions may cause information gap problems and should be factored into analyses on regional economic deviations.

Interestingly, Sejong City and Ulsan Metropolitan City had relatively large mobile usage times, although their number of Wi-Fi zones per area was not large. This phenomenon may be due to the region’s relatively young demographics; the region has the nation’s lowest average age of 37.6.

Background

The study analyzed the responses of 6,090 people nationwide from June 27, 2016 to October 2, 2016 and referenced the the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning’s 2013 report “Wi-Fi Zone Installation Relative To Each Region’s Population” and the National Statistics Office’s report “Area by Region.”
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Sharon is a student at Stanford University, where she studies Economics and Public Policy. During her free time, she likes to travel, drink boba, and be a foodie! Sharon can be reached at sharon.kim@techforkorea.com.

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