& cplSiteName &

Carrier Wi-Fi: Always Best Connected

Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
5/13/2013
50%
50%

Wi-Fi is a great technology -- I love it. (Well, like it a lot.) So much so, in fact, that I’m leading Light Reading’s 2013 Service Provider Wi-Fi Industry Initiative. The aim of the initiative is to look at how network operators can scale and accelerate investment in Wi-Fi -- and, of course, why they should.

The technology is well suited to indoor mobile data consumption -- that much we know. And the fact that around half of smartphone data usage is already over Wi-Fi today explains why operators should engage. There's also an opportunity for operators to better exploit the product volume that characterizes the Wi-Fi ecosystem, and the Wi-Fi R&D investment paid for by other people. It's not quite a free ride, but the economics can be compelling.

Let's take it a bit easy on the hype, however, and ask why a majority of operators -- and specifically mobile operators -- haven’t yet made the big bet on Wi-Fi investments? (There are one or two notable exceptions, of course.) Fundamentally, the reason is that the way Wi-Fi works in smartphones today puts it squarely outside the mobile operator's sphere of influence.

One area that crystallizes this issue is connectivity management, and the tendency for smartphones to automatically connect to "bad Wi-Fi" that interrupts, and even breaks, the user experience. Consider the following scenarios, where a smartphone, under its own auspices, might detach itself from a functioning mobile network in favor of "broken" Wi-Fi:

  • Border conditions. Most of us will have experienced being on the very edge of Wi-Fi coverage (in the garden, example), or where there's interference from neighboring access points, and performance is poor as a result. Yet the device still reaches to connect.
  • Skinny backhaul. Wi-Fi is a high-speed radio interface (under the right conditions), but that doesn’t matter much if it's connected to a slow Internet connection. Anyone who's ever tried to use hotel Wi-Fi knows what I’m talking about.
  • On the move. Automatically connecting to known Wi-Fi SSIDs at bus stops, rail stations, traffic lights, or the like might not be the worst thing in the world, but it is annoying.
  • Overloaded networks. Where devices connect to networks that, while not saturated, may already be heavily used, resulting in poor performance for the user and everybody else attached to that access point.
  • Associated but not authorized. You’ve visited this Wi-Fi SSID in the past, so your device attaches automatically, but does not actually connect to the Internet until you log in or pay via captive portal. Again, annoying.

Scenarios such as these explain why mobile operators have preferred to take a hands-off approach and why, to date, they have tended to see Wi-Fi as a tactical rather than strategic technology. Smartphone vendors, meanwhile, have added manual on/off "Wi-Fi toggles" to their devices, and like operators, have been content to excuse themselves from getting involved in what they see as somebody else's problem.

This state of affairs is not a catastrophe, but it feels like a compromise and fudge. The solution is for operators, together with the industry at large, to work to automate network selection and connectivity management. By ensuring that users are always best connected, operators can better take advantage of Wi-Fi technology and economics.

— Gabriel Brown, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

Psst: As part of Light Reading's 2013 Carrier Wi-Fi Industry Initiative, I'm hosting a webinar on Accelerating & Scaling Carrier Grade Wi-Fi on Tuesday, May 14, at 12 Noon EST. Click Here to Register.

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Cable operators have some key hurdles to overcome if they wish to fill the growing mobility needs of small and large businesses alike.
With more and more businesses seeking mobility solutions, cable operators have the chance to carve out an even larger share of the commercial market.
Cable is going big with data analytics, digging into its big data stores, with the hope of garnering information, simplifying operations and improving services and customer care.
A new Heavy Reading report examines why NFV, SDN and cloud are so important to CSPs, and explores their impact on data center infrastructure.
In this first part of a new sponsored blog series, AT&T's Bill Smith explains how AT&T hopes to complement its GPON-powered GigaPower rollout with additional technologies, such as G.fast.
From The Founder
Download our complete guide to de-risking NFV deployment in 2016, including:
  • An eight-step strategy to deploying NFV safely, based on input from the companies that have already started virtualizing their production networks.
  • Interviews with leading executives at Colt, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, Nokia, ZTE, Ericsson and Heavy Reading.
  • Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
    During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
    LRTV Interviews
    Ditching the Slash & the Orchestration Wars

    5|3|16   |     |   (2) comments


    SDN and NFV have been inextricably bound with each other for so long that on a conceptual level, smooshing them together into one catch-all phrase – SDNFV – is now justifiable, according to Dan Pitt, executive director of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). Light Reading spoke to Pitt at the NFV World Congress, where he explained that the next ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    ZTE TV Connect Highlights

    5|3|16   |     |   (0) comments


    ZTE gives us a tour of its booth and new products at TV Connect in London.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Deluxe's Unified Delivery Solution

    5|3|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and visit the Deluxe booth at NAB! Here you'll find Deluxe's Unified Delivery Solution, OTT video, virtual reality, HDR, 4K and much more!
    LRTV Interviews
    Verizon Puts Gray Boxes in the Shade

    5|2|16   |   04:33   |   (1) comment


    When it comes to the white box trend, "gray" boxes, which have a slight proprietary twist, don't give service providers and end users the advantages they're seeking, according to Verizon's Vice President of Product and New Business Innovation Shawn Hakl.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Dealing With a Disrupted Video Market

    5|2|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Ericsson's Simon Frost discusses how traditional pay-TV providers can cope with the big changes wrought by the rise of OTT video and IP technology.
    LRTV Custom TV
    The VNF Responsibility of Red Hat

    5|2|16   |     |   (0) comments


    At MWC, Caroline Chappell of Heavy Reading visits the Red Hat booth and sits down with Chris Wright to talk about the responsibility the VNF needs to take on in order to ensure the operators get the carrier-grade performance they expect for their network.
    LRTV Interviews
    AT&T Expert on the Key Pillars of UC

    4|29|16   |   03:58   |   (0) comments


    Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of product marketing at AT&T, talks about the three developments that are making unified communications and collaboration secure and reliable for enterprise users.
    LRTV Documentaries
    LRTV Report: Mobile Core Innovation

    4|28|16   |   25:32   |   (0) comments


    Hear from multiple industry experts from Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, Heavy Reading, Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and many more about developments in the mobile core as operators virtualize their IMS and evolved packet core systems and prepare for a 5G world.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    NFV World Congress Highlight

    4|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


    The highlight of the NFV World Congress contains exciting telecom news. Join us for an inside look at Huawei's ICT 2020 plan and its latest collaboration with industry leaders.
    LRTV Interviews
    Unified Comms Finds Its Voice

    4|25|16   |   03:44   |   (0) comments


    Peter Quinlan, VP of UCC Product Management at Tata Communications, talks about the evolution of the unified communications and collaboration services sector and how voice is now a big part of current developments.
    LRTV Documentaries
    So... What Do We Do Now?

    4|25|16   |   03:24   |   (0) comments


    After a long hiatus, Max Dingman, the CEO of a GeeGhiz, returns for a motivational board room pep talk.
    LRTV Documentaries
    NAB 2016 Highlights

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Light Reading's Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick climbs down from the slots to tell us about the latest news in broadcast technology at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.
    Upcoming Live Events
    May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
    May 23, 2016, Austin Convention Center
    May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    December 6-8, 2016,
    June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
    Hot Topics
    Ultra-Broadband Summit, Hong Kong
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/27/2016
    WiCipedia: Woman Cards & Bitch Switches
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 4/29/2016
    Amazon AWS Reports $2.6B Quarterly Revenue, Up a Colossal 64%
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/28/2016
    Sprint CEO: Our Spectrum Is for 5G
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/3/2016
    Amazon & Other 'Big 4' Cloud Providers Crushing Competitors
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/29/2016
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    Animals with Phones
    Sloth Mail Click Here
    Sloth mail -- somehow even slower than snail mail.
    Live Digital Audio

    Of all the tech companies in the Valley, Intel has made the most aggressive commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It's doing so by taking concrete, measurable steps, making a large financial investment and through a commitment to complete transparency about its progress. In this radio show, WiC Director Sarah Thomas will be joined by Shlomit Weiss, Intel's Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager of Networking Engineering, who will share with us why Intel is tackling this huge challenge, how and to what effect. She will also discuss her unique experiences leading development of Client SOC development in the past and today leading development of all of the chipmaker's silicon hardware for networking IPs and discrete devices and managing a team of 600 engineers across Israel, Europe and the US.