Wi-Fi is everywhere! The number of Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to triple over the next three years, reaching a stunning 5.8 million hotspots worldwide in 2015. At this point, the yearly volume of produced Wi-Fi chip-sets will reach 2.1 billion.
Many of your subscribers already have three Wi-Fi enabled devices: their smartphone, tablet and laptop. This number will soon increase with other types of devices such as game consoles, cameras and portable printers. The Wi-Fi (r)evolution within your subscriber base is inevitable.
It is up to you as a mobile operator to decide what to do with this opportunity.
Mobile Operator Wi-Fi adoption – Where are you?
After hundreds of discussions with mobile operators from every corner of the globe, we’ve come to understand that every mobile operator has a unique perspective, and each one is at a different stage in their Wi-Fi adoption process.
Wherever you are, Aptilo is happy to be a your partner. If you have an immediate need for offloading your 3G/4G network to Wi-Fi, or realize that you need a Wi-Fi strategy to stay ahead of the data explosion curve, then learn more about our carrier-class Wi-Fi solution. This solution has been deployed with 100+ service providers in more than 65 countries and is the core component of our mobile data offloading solution.
If you have decided to rely on 3G/LTE for now, to solve the capacity needs in your network, then please consider our 3GPP Policy & Charging solution (PCRF+) in order to control the user experience in the 3GPP network.
Mobile operators need to have a Wi-Fi strategy
If you’re concluding that Wi-Fi doesn’t fit within your strategic plan. That LTE will give you sufficient capacity. Then allow us to challenge you with a question:
Will the transition from 3G to 4G be very different from the move from 2 Mbps to 24 Mbps connections in fixed broadband?
What we learned from that move was that no matter how much more bandwidth users get, they consume it.
According to Signals Research Group, mobile data traffic in the United States alone is expected to grow between 53x and 153x from 2010 to 2020 while cellular network capacity will grow by only approximately 25x. Carrier Wi-Fi represents a very attractive way to fill that gap.
Wi-Fi offload – the missing piece
Online lifestyles with data-hungry applications such as Facebook and YouTube. The explosion of different types of devices. It is no wonder that there is a supply-and-demand issue for 3G/4G data capacity in the mobile networks.
Traditionally, mobile operators have managed capacity issues by:
- Acquiring more spectrum. This may not be a viable option in many markets today.
- Aggressive build-out of new base stations, potentially with small cells in dense areas.
- Apply data policies to obtain a fair-use-policy and mitigate data traffic spikes through policy servers (PCRF) such as the Aptilo Policy & Charging Server™.
Wi-Fi offload is the missing piece for mobile operators trying to put the capacity puzzle together. It is also a tremendous opportunity as carrier-class Wi-Fi addresses more than just the capacity issue – it can provide additional revenue. Wi-Fi has simply become an additional radio access for mobile operators. The standardization for 3GPP Wi-Fi access is a critical link in creating a heterogeneous network (HetNet).
Learn more about Aptilo’s products for Wi-Fi offload:
- Aptilo Service Management Platform™ (SMP) for management and delivery of carrier-class Wi-Fi services.
- Aptilo SIM Authentication Server™ (SAS) for automatic and secure authentication of Wi-Fi users via the SIM-card.
- Aptilo 3GPP AAA+ Server™ combines the very best functions from Aptilo SMP and Aptilo SAS for Wi-Fi offload.
Aptilo’s leading solution for Wi-Fi offload combined with the Aptilo Policy & Charging Server provides the tool for “rightloading” a mobile operators network assets.
Drivers for carrier Wi-Fi
Many mobile operators approaching us come from a capacity issue perspective. However, when we ask the 30+ mobile operators that have deployed our carrier-class Wi-Fi solution, they primarily mention other soft values that provide market differentiation. This is probably because you need to have Wi-Fi in operation to discover soft-values such as:
- Customer retention, by giving users what they are asking for.
- Making subscribers more “sticky” by offering connections for all their devices, including devices that only have Wi-Fi.
- Smartphones and tablets love Wi-Fi. Operators need to follow their subscribers there.
For mobile operators that decide to build their own footprint, Wi-Fi can provide additional revenue streams from ad-hoc users who sign up for services online at web-portals. Another opportunity is to offer guest Internet services for different industry segments such as enterprises, hospitality, healthcare, city/municipal and airports.
Offering Wi-Fi services for ad-hoc users is also a good way of attracting new subscribers to the cellular network by offering compelling service packages online.
Additional Spectrum and Coverage
Wi-Fi provides additional spectrum. Wi-Fi will also offer a more effective way to provide wireless data coverage in dense areas, especially indoors. While 3G/4G small cells will also provide better coverage, they will not give you additional spectrum. Furthermore, many apps for smartphones and tablets can only be used on Wi-Fi.
Whether you call it Wi-Fi offload, mobile data offloading, 3G data offloading or just data offload, it all boils down to handling the capacity crunch and reducing cost. The cost per-megabit is much lower in the Wi-Fi network compared to the cellular network. While determining how much lower depends on the operator’s individual conditions. One Aptilo customer (a mobile operator) has found it is as low as one-tenth of the cost for the cellular network when doing local breakout to the Internet (not backhauling the traffic to the mobile core).
Reduced churn is a cost reduction that might be harder to measure because it can depend on many different parameters. But, just consider what it would mean for you if churn were reduced by one percentage point just because your subscribers love your Wi-Fi service.