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Disruptive Analysis - Carrier WiFi

Disruptive Analysis - Carrier WiFi

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Published by Dean Bubley
White paper on the opportunities from WiFi for mobile network operators. Covers offload, onload and the use of WiFi for new business models. Examines new technical standards and the use of roaming and WiFi exchanges. Also considers various market risks & the value of maintaining user control and experience. Sponsored by iPass Inc
White paper on the opportunities from WiFi for mobile network operators. Covers offload, onload and the use of WiFi for new business models. Examines new technical standards and the use of roaming and WiFi exchanges. Also considers various market risks & the value of maintaining user control and experience. Sponsored by iPass Inc

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Published by: Dean Bubley on Aug 09, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/19/2014

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 © Disruptive Analysis Ltd, August 2011 Carrier WiFi
 –
opportunities and challenges
1
 
Carrier WiFi Opportunities
Enabling offload, onload and roaming
A Disruptive Analysis
thought-leadership 
paper
August 2011
Commissioned by iPass Inc.
Author: Dean BubleyContact: information@disruptive-analysis.com
 
Disruptive Analysis
 
Don’t Assume
 
 © Disruptive Analysis Ltd, August 2011 Carrier WiFi
 –
opportunities and challenges
2
 
Contents
 
Disruptive Analysis
 
Don’t Assume
 
 © Disruptive Analysis Ltd, August 2011 Carrier WiFi
 –
opportunities and challenges
3
 
Abstract / Summary
Many mobile operators are re-examining their strategies around WiFi (officially Wi-Fi witha hyphen) technology, driven by the explosive growth in smartphone penetration andusage. Handsets are very different to PCs in terms of user expectation and behaviour,and providing them with efficient and intuitive WiFi connectivity demands a rethink.A variety of new technical and commercial models for carrier-based WiFi are emerging,which leverage cellular assets such as roaming and authentication/billing systems, aswell as integrating with mobile broadband radio, policy and traffic management functions.These offer the potential for offloading data traffic from congested 3G/4G networks,providing easier access to foreign hotspots for travellers, and driving new revenueopportunit
ies from operators‟ own WiFi footprint.
 However, getting both the network interoperability
and 
user experience perfect remains amajor challenge. People acquire and use smartphones in many different ways, and theWiFi and connection software implementations can vary widely, with new uses for WiFiemerging from sectors like the consumer electronics industry. This means that theoperators are dealing with a complex and moving target, and need to be aware of
“brittle” or over 
-engineered solutions for adopting WiFi.At the same time, there are also numerous other parallel initiatives in operators to dealwith the opportunities and challenges of growing data traffic
, with which “offload” must fit
.Although much of the current industry rhetoric suggests that connection management
should always strive to be “seamless” and automated, the reality is more complex:
sometimes seams are better left neat and elegant, and not entirely invisible. It will beimportant for all parts of the mobile data ecosystem to work toget
her “holistically”, rather 
than risking point solutions creating undesirable side-effects.Successful adoption of WiFi by mobile operators demands careful consideration oftechnical architecture, a good appreciation of real-world user interaction, and partnering
with suppliers that understand WiFi‟s subtle nuances and likely future trends.
Over-zealous attempts by the mobile community to over-
reach and “own” the entire WiFi value
chain risk failure and customer dissatisfaction.
Commissioned by WiFi aggregation and roaming specialist iPass Inc., this independent White Paper examines the trends and options for operator WiFi, highlighting both new business models and avoidable pitfalls. The opinions expressed in this document are 
solely Disruptive Analysis’ 
own. Please contact  information@disruptive-analysis.com  for  more details, custom advisory workshops or deeper consulting engagements.
Introduction
WiFi technology is now in its second decade of use. Originally driven by the needs oflaptops and industrial computing, it is now being rapidly adopted in a range of otherdevices such as smartphones, tablets and consumer electronics. Some of these
 –
 notably handsets
 –
are strongly coupled to the provision of mobile network services. Thisis leading to traditional public hotspots taking on a variety of new roles, such as

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