& 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
More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
With C-RAN, operators have more tools for shoehorning more customers into spectrum they already own.
To fully benefit from the opportunities of 5G, IoT and NFV, operators must assure their infrastructure, services and processes throughout each stage of their virtualization, automation and DevOps journey.
With the current industry consensus for deployment to commence broadly in 2020, now is the time to prepare transport networks for the coming of 5G.
The 2017 GCI ratings, which are used to compare digital transformation activity in different countries, hold some surprising results.
While service providers have traditionally relied on tracking two-way latency issues on their networks, switching to a superior one-way measurement approach would be far more effective.
From The Founder
The time has come for a telecom app store to save the industry.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Documentaries
Order From Chaos: The Steve Saunders BCE Keynote

5|24|17   |   17:27   |   (0) comments


Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability testing.
Think of this as the video sequel to the recent columns he's written about NFV and the prospect of a telecom app store. (See

LRTV Documentaries
Service Provider Panel: Partnering in the Digital Era

5|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Coopetition has always been part of telecom, but the ecosphere now includes data centers, vendors, apps developers, cloud service providers and Internet content providers. This BCE 2017 panel explores the new attitudes among network operators as to the value and variety of ...
LRTV Interviews
Site Demo: AT&T's IoT Flow Platform

5|19|17   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


At AT&T's R&D center in Tel Aviv, Israel, project leader Eyal Segev talks about the operator's Flow platform and how it helps to prototype IoT applications.
LRTV Documentaries
Agent of Change: A Q&A With AT&T's John Donovan

5|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


Carol Wilson talks with the man leading AT&T's transformation efforts about the challenge of change.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE Service Provider Panel: The New Business Realities

5|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


For virtualization to happen, the telecom industry first has to grapple with key functional aspects of SDN and NFV that need to be universal, such as onboarding of virtualized network functions and federation of software-defined networks.
LRTV Interviews
BCE Service Provider Keynote: CenturyLink

5|16|17   |   22:32   |   (0) comments


Aamir Hussain leads the Product Development and Technology organization at CenturyLink, which includes the company's information technology function. He is an experienced senior technology executive with more than 25 years of proven success in the implementation of global technology operations, operationalization of complex technology, infrastructures and business ...
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink CTO on Transformation

5|16|17   |   7:43   |   (0) comments


The 50-year-old telco has already gone through several transformations, including every time it made an acquisition, but its purchase of Level 3 coupled with changes in technology and customer expectations necessitates its biggest transformation yet.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2017

5|15|17   |   5:05   |   (1) comment


Find out who made it into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Interviews
Site Visit: AT&T's Tel Aviv R&D Center

5|15|17   |   09:58   |   (1) comment


Nir Shalom, general manager and VP of application development at AT&T Israel, talks about the key service developments undertaken at the AT&T R&D facility in Tel Aviv and how the team there has adopted new ways of working.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Act on Your Intelligence With Amdocs aia!

5|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Amdocs CMO Gary Miles explains how communications service providers can seize the AI opportunity with Amdocs real-time digital intelligence platform.
LRTV Interviews
Logtel CEO: Making Sense of IoT

5|15|17   |   09:48   |   (0) comments


Jacques Bensimon, founder and CEO of Tel Aviv-based training and consultancy Logtel, talks about the need to make IoT more than just a buzzword.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Challenges of Mobile Banking Implementation

5|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Kamal Quadir of bKash Limited explains the challenges and needs of implementing mobile banking in the Bangladesh market.
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
AT&T's Donovan: Women Adapt Faster Than Men
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 5/18/2017
Verizon on M&A: Who Needs a Cableco?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/17/2017
Standardization Needs Room for Innovation
Mitch Wagner, Editor, Enterprise Cloud, 5/17/2017
Fright Wigs & Cocktails: BCE 2017 in Pics
Mitch Wagner, Editor, Enterprise Cloud, 5/19/2017
What's Blocking 4K TV Today
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.