Light Reading
A new Light Reading initiative explores how – and why – network operators can scale and accelerate investment in Wi-Fi

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
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Enterprises increasingly realize that in order to run their businesses economically they need to fundamentally change ways in which they operate their businesses in the connected IP world.
There's plenty of activity in the emerging G.fast broadband technology sector, but will it come to anything?
Here are some steps that service providers could take to boost the reach, awareness and success of their multiscreen video ventures.
Telecom operators are deploying new technologies in their data center environments to reduce costs and increase revenues.
The cloud debate has moved on to the network capabilities needed to meet customers' demands, with SDN and NFV at the heart of discussions.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
Jonestown
Mobile Backhaul: Going to the Dark Side?

10|30|14   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan shares his view on a dark trend that bubbled up at Light Reading's annual backhaul conference in NYC.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With CEO of SwitchCom

10|30|14   |   4:13   |   (0) comments


SwitchCom, an IT company based in Angola, recommends a variety of Huawei solutions and hardware to their customers in the energy industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy

10|30|14   |   4:08   |   (0) comments


Gosaye Mengistie of Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy discusses the collaboration with Huawei in that country.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Dongfang Electronics Corporation

10|30|14   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Dongfang Electronics Corporation, headquartered in Chengdu, China, is one of China's largest manufacturers of power generators and contractors of power station projects.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Zimbabwe's Customers

10|30|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Power and Development discuss the energy needs of their country as well as new areas of improvement due to enhanced ICT capabilities.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Colbún Chile

10|30|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


In Chile, an aging energy infrastructure was in dire need of a modern update. Claudio Valenzuela of Colbún discusses how Huawei's ICT solutions continue to provide crucial information to improve the grid and how an in-country engineer is a cricial asset.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With YuLiao

10|30|14   |   6:27   |   (0) comments


Yu Liao, chairman of the Chinese Association for Renewable Energy in Germany, discusses the role that ICT solutions play in helping to grow renewable energy resources in Germany.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview

10|30|14   |   2:54   |   (0) comments


Sifang has been working with Huawei on several projects. JingTao Wu, Assistant President of Beijing Sifang Automation Co. Ltd., believes that the cooperation with Huawei can facilitate Sifang's process of internationalization.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Better Connected Smart Grid: Powering Laos

10|30|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Electricite Du Laos (EDL), a state-owned corporation, discuss the importance of ICT solutions in serving their country's energy needs.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Junwei Lu

10|30|14   |   4:50   |   (0) comments


Professor Junwei Lu of Griffith University Australia describes his work with micro grid technology and the future of the power industry.
LRTV Documentaries
The Next-Gen Network Disconnect

10|29|14   |   01:23   |   (0) comments


There's a lot of talk about making networks more simple with SDN, NFV and next-gen broadband technology – but what about the complexity of introducing such capabilities?
LRTV Custom TV
Grow Your VPN Service Revenue

10|27|14   |   4:00   |   (0) comments


Watch how CSP product managers can better differentiate and maximize the value of their Internet, VPN and cloud services for business services customers, by adding premium application performance visibility to their data services.
Upcoming Live Events
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 30, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Microsoft's Skype Embraces WebRTC on IE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/27/2014
FTC Slaps AT&T With Throttling Lawsuit
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/28/2014
Wheeler Gets Down With OTT
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/29/2014
China's MVNOs Hit the Wall
Robert Clark, 10/27/2014
Let's Not Kill SDN & NFV With Silos
Francois Locoh-Donou, Senior VP, Global Products Group, Ciena, 10/28/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed