By: Jonas Lagerquist, Director Product Management at Enea
Nearly 18 billion Wi-Fi devices will be in use in 2022, with another 4.4 billion shipping over the course of the year, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance. The enormous installed base highlights why mobile operators, telcos, and other communications service providers (CSPs) need to double down on their support for Wi-Fi — and fast.
But that’s easier said than done. For starters, Wi-Fi technology is continually evolving to meet the needs of consumers and businesses, such as with Passpoint and OpenRoaming to simplify authenticating and connecting. Meanwhile, the marketplace is rapidly growing and diversifying as enterprises, smart cities, and other organizations increasingly use Wi-Fi for their IoT applications.
CSPs struggle to keep up with these new technologies and market opportunities. Often it’s because they’re saddled with a homegrown or legacy Wi-Fi service management system that’s incapable of changing with the times. For example, those systems may not support key processes such as SIM authentication and serving as a 3GPP AAA for Wi-Fi Calling. They may also be unable to support ad-hoc onboarding of Passpoint profiles or enable participation in the OpenRoaming consortium. As a result, those CSPs miss out on the revenue and market-differentiation opportunities that those processes enable.
SaaS Lowers Barriers to New Services and Market Opportunities
To help service providers overcome those and other challenges, Enea recently launched the Aptilo Wi-Fi Service Management Platform as a Service (SMP-S). It’s the industry’s first comprehensive software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for launching and monetizing Wi-Fi services.
Hosted as a dedicated instance per customer at Amazon Web Services (AWS), SMP-S gives each CSP a self-contained, secure service that also can be deployed as a hybrid service to enhance their existing Wi-Fi service management software. This design provides a fast, cost-effective way to modernize their back-end because they simply add the functionality they need from SMP-S in the cloud on top of their existing infrastructure.
For years, over 100 CSPs worldwide have deployed Aptilo SMP Wi-Fi software on-premise to support service delivery, security, administration, monitoring, and other key processes. With SMP-S, they now can have all of those capabilities provided as a cloud-based service.
For example, SMP-S includes multi-tenancy business-to-business (B2B) support, which enables CSPs to sell managed Wi-Fi services to owners of venues such as malls, stadiums, airports, and multi-tenant office campuses. Those enterprise customers can choose from various login methods to onboard guests to their Wi-Fi service, including social media accounts, Office 365, surveys, and online payments.
SMP-S also provides CSPs with the tools that enable their enterprise customers to monetize Wi-Fi, such as with GDPR-compliant targeted advertising via banner ads, SMS, or email. The Enea Aptilo Venue Wi-Fi Manager (VWM) included with SMP-S lets CSPs manage their multi-tenant B2B guest Wi-Fi services and provide their business customers with tools for analytics, captive portals, and Wi-Fi marketing and end-user privacy.
Predictability, Scalability, and Security
As a service rather than on-premise software, SMP-S also frees CSPs to focus on their core business. For example, Enea staff manage the operation of the SMP platform — including a 24/7/365 SLA.
Financial predictability is another key benefit. CSPs know up front what to expect from each monthly invoice — no surprise costs. The pay-as-you-grow model also lets CSPs expand their Wi-Fi service footprint and add functions that complement their existing solution instead of doing a forklift upgrade.
Finally, SMP-S also allows CSPs to provide another layer of secure Wi-Fi SSID (802.1x) at every access point and then combine that with mobile core integration and SIM authentication. This enables CSPs to offload subscribers securely and seamlessly to Wi-Fi and boost indoor coverage while freeing up much-needed additional capacity.
Analysts are already lauding SMP-S as an industry-first solution. One example is Sue Rudd, Strategy Analytics Director of Networks and Service Platforms, who says: “Wi-Fi service management ‘in the cloud’ should immediately accelerate CSPs’ ability to launch new functionality and add services alongside existing systems to secure new revenues. Enea’s Wi-Fi service management offers multitenant B2B customer self-management while ensuring the correct handling of consent and use of personal data. These capabilities now make it far easier to monetize Wi-Fi and create valuable experiences for subscribers. Carrier Wi-Fi SaaS is a game-changer for CSPs and their business customers.”
To learn more about SMP-S, visit https://www.aptilo.com/cloud/enea-aptilo-wifi-smp-as-a-service.