& cplSiteName &

Carrier WiFi: The Handoff Tradeoff

Sarah Thomas
2/21/2014
50%
50%

Even as the number of WiFi hotspots across the globe continues to multiply, getting on those hotspots from cellular remains the tricky part.

Handoff and authentication have made the experience less than graceful for mobile users, although that's starting to change as new technologies emerge to make it a seamless process. The only problem is, it appears several new technologies are gaining traction, which could fragment the market for service providers.

Hotspot 2.0 is perhaps the standard about which there's been the most noise, but while it's racking up support in devices, carriers have been less enthusiastic. Dr. Derek Peterson, SVP of engineering for Boingo Wireless Inc. , an early proponent of the standard, says the service provider is in phase three of its Hotspot 2.0 trials with the Wireless Broadband Alliance , now working on policy configuration, so it can set rules on speeds offered, access points included, time of day, etc. Peterson says there is operator interest; it's just a matter of figuring out monetization models and signing contracts. (See iOS 7: The Next-Gen Hotspot Game Changer .)

"The table is there. The operators have even paid for some of the food, but haven’t started eating yet," he analogizes. "Some are trying to push it in their own networks, like KT Corp. and some cable companies. I wouldn't be surprised if we see something with them soon just because they are moving faster than the ones trying to protect their assets."

At the same time, vendors like Aptilo Networks AB aren't waiting for more operators to commit to Hotspot 2.0. Aptilo is working with operators on handoff via the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standard ANDSF (Access Network Discovery and Selection Function). Aptilo CEO Torbjorn Ward says the company has been doing SIM authentication with operators like Swisscom Mobile AG for six years now. While Aptilo will support next-generation hotspots, Ward doesn't share the enthusiasm.

"The politically correct answer is, 'We think it's very important, and it's an industry way to make it work, and yada yada,' " Ward told Light Reading of Hotspot 2.0 recently. "In reality… if you can already do a lot of these things, how important is that?"

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is also reportedly throwing another option into the ring. Engadget reports that it is working on a new iOS and Android app that will automatically authenticate and connect users to free hotspots, a good complement to its new relationship with Starbucks. (See Google, Starbucks Start AT&T Router Swap and Is Google the New WiFi of Coffee Snobs?)

And finally, an entirely new handoff alternative is emerging in multipath TCP or carrier bonding. The 3GPP tech, championed by Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) and other big vendors, bonds together licensed and unlicensed spectrum, allowing for faster, more efficient data transfers by combining all the best networks the handset can support. (See Not Your Grandma's Carrier WiFi.)

"In the near future, whatever the time scale will be, we anticipate wireless operators will have to leverage licensed and unlicensed spectrum together as part of their offering out to mobile users," Mike Schabel, general manager of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s small cell group tells us.

In that case, handoff is rendered unnecessary because two networks are being combined, a phenomenon that InterDigital Inc. (Nasdaq: IDCC) VP Narayan Menon warns could take some control out of the operators' hands if it's happening at the app level.

All of these topics, and more, will be up for discussion at Mobile World Congress next week, where I'll be to get the pulse on which handoff style is winning and what tradeoffs operators are willing to make when it comes to their networks.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(9)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
smkinoshita
50%
50%
smkinoshita,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/22/2014 | 10:29:46 PM
Re: the WiFi divide
@kq4ym -- I think it will complicate and delay stanards.  Everyone wants to make the rules, regardless of motives.  I think we're going to see a lot of "unfriendly" competition.

Personally I'm not sure about Google.  They've got a history of not finishing what they've started and making some odd business decisions that sometimes pay off beautifully and other times turn into Wave.  (Although Google Hangouts is basically Wave 2.0)
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/21/2014 | 9:57:15 PM
Re: the WiFi divide
They want to leave room for their partners & developers to do things. Build an ecosystem without trying too hard.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/21/2014 | 5:17:43 PM
Re: the WiFi divide
I think it's the huge footprint and automatic authentication process that makes it a bit more exciting than apps that locate hotspots for you.
Gabriel Brown
50%
50%
Gabriel Brown,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/21/2014 | 10:23:59 AM
Re: the WiFi divide
Re: Google. Is there anything to say this is more than just a connectivity manager client -- of which there are literally hundreds available -- to be downloaded from the Android App store?

The OS level optimizations for WiFi connectivity in Android have so far been abysmal. Worse than useless. The shame is that Google could do great things in this area.
Gabriel Brown
50%
50%
Gabriel Brown,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/21/2014 | 10:20:39 AM
Re: the WiFi divide
I agree with mendyk. Different motivations are driving different (proposed) solutions.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/21/2014 | 10:05:44 AM
Re: the WiFi divide
I think we saw the first inklings of that when Google announced it would replace AT&T at Starbucks. Its motivations are quite different -- ie. more ways to get customer data and serve up ads versus telcos who need WiFi to maintain the quality of their overloaded cellular networks -- but I'd hope they're mode of handoff would be compatible. 
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/21/2014 | 10:05:11 AM
Re: the WiFi divide
Motive is key to sorting out what's going on in WiFi and what's likely to happen in the inevitable "moving forward." And since motives vary, it's reasonable to guess that the cats will not be herded to a single standard.
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/21/2014 | 9:57:20 AM
Re: the WiFi divide
With Google entering the wifi field, I wonder if that will complicate and delay standards among interested groups. With the rush to gain footholds in the regulated and unregulated frequencies bands, there's bound to be some quite "unfriendly" competion out there.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/21/2014 | 9:44:52 AM
the WiFi divide
I think the hope is that all these carriers and vendors working on proprietary handoff solutions will also support Hotspot 2.0, which is the case in some instances, but not all. Ericsson is an example of another company working on proprietary handoff. Nice for its customers, but not helpful for moving the industry forward. 

There seems to be a divide already forming between the wireless operators and new groups like the WiFiForward initiative:http://www.lightreading.com/mobile/carrier-wifi/rival-msos-tech-rivals-unite-on-wifi/d/d-id/707737
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
WiC congratulates the winners of our inaugural Leading Lights awards: Cisco's Yvette Kanouff, Zayo Group's Sandi Mays and startup Grid4C.
Leaders from Mellanox, Arista Networks, Syniverse, ECI Telecom and Cisco round out WiC's inaugural female tech pioneers of the year.
Women from AT&T, Ciena, Ixia, Zayo Group and Fujitsu make our shortlist for working to advance the cause of women in the next-gen comms industry.
Join WiC and Flex's Caroline Dowling for a live radio show on Tuesday at 12PM ET on how technology is powering the fourth revolution and to what effect in the future.
New companies with a focus on video graphics, smart grid predictive analytics and a quadcopter camera make up WiC's finalists for Female-Led Startup to Watch.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, August 3, 1:00PM EDT
The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director, Open Networking Research Center, Open Networking Lab
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, August 10, 1:00PM EDT
Telcos & Open Source 101
Phil Robb, Senior Technical Director, OpenDaylight
Friday, August 12, 1:00PM EDT
The Role of Open Source in NFV
Jim Fagan, Director, Cloud Practice, Telstra
Wednesday, August 17, 1:00PM EDT
Using Open Source for Data Centers and Cloud Services
Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
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 Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (1) comment


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (0) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Versa's Kumar Mehta for an interview focused on why service providers are building SD-WAN managed services, and how Versa's telco customers are innovating.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper Networks & The Evolution of NFV

7|19|16   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Senior Juniper Networks executives talk to Light Reading Founder & CEO Steve Saunders about NFV developments and the recent independent evaluation by test lab EANTC of Juniper's Cloud CPE solution.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink Goes Beyond Managed WiFi

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


CenturyLink's managed WiFi allows enterprises, such as retailers and resorts, to track guest WiFi usage in order to help them better communicate with customers.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Verizon Sports Big Plans for Yahoo
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 7/26/2016
Light Reading Beyond
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 7/28/2016
Are IP/Optical Integration Initiatives Moving to Silos?
Faisal Khan, Network Operator Technology Planning Dept., 7/28/2016
Yahoo Signing Off in $4.83B Sale to Verizon
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 7/25/2016
Ericsson Board Has Been Asleep at the Wheel – Consultant
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
I've enjoyed interviewing many interesting people since I rejoined Light Reading, but William A. "Bill" Owens certainly takes the biscuit, as we say where I come from.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.