AT&T sees cellular connection key to tablets; consumers still prefer WiFi

AT&T (NYSE: T)--or at least a key executive--thinks that WiFi-only tablets are, or soon should be, a thing of the past and vendors should automatically build 3G/4G capability into their product lines.

Wi-Fi Alliance infographic

Click here for a larger view of this infographic. (Source: Wi-Fi Alliance)

"All devices should have all capabilities built in from the beginning," Glenn Lurie, AT&T's president of emerging devices told PC Advisor. That hasn't been the case so far, he conceded, because cellular connectivity costs more than Wi-Fi and that cost differential knocked the "ecosystem a little out of balance."

With prices dropping on mobile-equipped tablets, Lurie said the time has come to consider abandoning WiFi-only product lines. Of course, that would mean more across-the-board cost for consumers--Apple adds $130 to its iPad price for 4G and other makers tag on at least $50 more--and it wouldn't obviate the need, or desire for WiFi.

That desire was amplified in a survey conducted by Wakefield Research for the Wi-Fi Alliance that found "90 percent of those polled said they would likely stick with their current (wireline) service provider if it offered the ability to connect automatically to WiFi hotspots and 72 percent said they would pay more for it."

Tellingly, for AT&T and other mobile carriers, the survey found that 85 percent of consumers using a smartphone or tablet "prefer to connect via WiFi over cellular for at least one common online activity;" 83 percent said they "would do more on their device if WiFi were more widely available;" and 87 percent "agreed they want greater WiFi availability for my device."

For more:
- PC Advisor has this story
- see the release

Related articles:
netTalk rings up record sales for WiFi device; Cincinnati Bell pushing cloud services to SMBs
AT&T's margins rebound as smartphone sales top 5.5M during Q1
Verizon rolls out latest Novatel LTE-capable MIFi hotspot for $50 

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