Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Brazilians increase Wi-Fi usage on smartphones during pandemic

The Latin nation tops the ranking of countries where the use of Wi-Fi via mobile devices has increased significantly in the last two weeks of March, according to research.

The average amount of time smartphone users have spent connected to Wi-Fi networks has jumped in Brazil in late March as a result of social isolation measures related to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to data released by mobile analytics firm Opensignal on South America, a significant week-on-week increase was observed in the amount of time smartphone users spent on Wi-Fi connections.

The time that smartphones were connected to Wi-Fi in Brazil went from 64.8% to 70.1% between the second and third week of March. Brazilian smartphone users typically avoid using their mobile data packages when they have access to Wi-Fi, in order to avoid big bills from their telecommunications providers. Quality of mobile data provision also used to be a problem but it is less of an issue at present.

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According to a previous study published by Opensignal in January, the mobile network experience has seen "notable improvements" in Brazil, particularly in metrics such as video and voice consumption, with users spending more time on 4G and enjoying faster average download speeds. However, with more people spending time at home, users have preferred to use their domestic networks.

The findings of Opensignal's most recent research place Brazil among the five countries where levels of Wi-Fi usage on smartphones increased the most during that period.

Canada tops the list, with users driving a 76.3% increase in the third week of March, followed by Spain (73.1%), Argentina (72.5%) and Germany (71.4%). Opensignal noted The Philippines had highest growth rate, from 55.8% in the week of March 9 to 15 to 63.3% in the week March 16 to 22.

Other markets with a more mature telecommunications infrastructure and also badly affected by the pandemic had smaller growth rates. In the US, Opensignal noted an increase in Wi-Fi mobile usage of 59.9%, up from 54.9% in the previous week. In Italy, there was an increase from 56.2% to 59.2%.

According to the research company, there was a decrease in Wi-Fi usage through smartphones in Asia: In Hong Kong, usage was down from 61.1% to 60.3%, and in South Korea, there was a decrease from 57.9% to 54.9%.

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