Download speeds drop by an average of 30 percent over Wi-Fi, largely due to environmental factors in the home that are out of the control of ISPs. Furthermore, latency increases by 10 to 20 percent with packet loss and jitter negatively affected via Wi-Fi connectivity. Broadband research firm Epitiro presented the data in a new report after sampling over 14,000 subscribers across four countries.

The company set out to quantify the difference in performance between wired and Wi-Fi broadband connectivity, and gain further insight as to why a slower access technology is becoming so popular amongst consumers. Laboratory tests showed that download speeds reduce sharply as signal strength decreases. The impact of subscriber Quality of Experience (QoE) was also investigated to understand the relationship between speeds and potential user satisfaction with common applications.

As speeds got slower, subscribers noticed a difference in the time it takes to download a large file. On the other hand, the data suggested that popular activities such as e-mailing and Web surfing are not noticeably slower when Good to Excellent signal strength is achieved. Video-on-demand, VoIP, and online gaming, however, may be impacted due to higher latency and packet loss over the Wi-Fi connection.

"With sales of wireless devices (laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones) now outstripping desktop computer it is clear that wireless (Wi-Fi) connectivity is important to consumers," the report concludes. "It also implies that consumer have practical experience of the limitations with Wi-Fi and accept these for the benefit of mobility. Consequently Epitiro recommends that ISPs and Regulators could benefit from measuring subscriber Quality of Experience in addition to traditional quality of service analysis."