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Mobile Phone Subscribers Would Switch For Wi-Fi Phones

Apple's iPhone and other Wi-Fi-enabled handsets are expected to hit a sweet spot with consumers, according to ABI Research.

Although mobile phones with Wi-Fi capability are still rare, many U.S. wireless subscribers would switch cellular carriers to take advantage of Wi-Fi capability, according to a survey released Tuesday by ABI Research and the Wi-Fi Alliance.

ABI, which surveyed some 1,200 U.S. wireless subscribers, found 21% to 25% of subscribers would be enticed to switch to take advantage of various Wi-Fi features.

One in four respondents said they would switch carriers to obtain the benefits of Wi-Fi and one in three would drop their traditional landline service to obtain a strong signal for in-home Wi-Fi coverage along with the reduced prices for Wi-Fi calls.

The market research firm predicted that many U.S. wireless carriers will launch Wi-Fi and convergence programs in the coming months. A major convergence event is expected in June when Apple is expected to begin shipping its iPhone, which has Wi-Fi capability.

"Convergence presents carriers with a compelling opportunity to build subscriber loyalty and migrate more users to mobile applications such as e-mail, Web surfing and multimedia downloads," said Philip Solis, principal analyst at ABI, in a statement.

Solis said that subscribers using converged phones are handed off from cellular to Wi-Fi networks.

In other findings, ABI noted that 21% of the survey respondents said they would switch to a converged phone to get reduced prices for data services, while 21% said they would switch to obtain reduced prices available from public Wi-Fi hotspots.

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