& cplSiteName &

Is WiFi the New It Network?

Sarah Thomas
12/30/2013
50%
50%

WiFi is no longer the pitch hitter for when cellular isn't doing its job. In fact, several startups are banking on it being the preferred network for enough people to build a business on.

Republic Wireless and Scratch Wireless are two of those companies. Both are wholesaling Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s 3G and 4G networks, but relying on WiFi as the primary network to keep costs low -- or non-existent -- for their customers. (See Top 10 Carrier WiFi Movers & Shakers.)

I spoke with both companies, as well as in Devicescape Software Inc. , which lends its network of WiFi access points to Republic, to learn how they are making a business out of unlicensed spectrum and overcoming its shortfalls. You can find the story here in our Prime Reading features section. (See Why WiFi-First Works for Wireless.)

As someone who uses my phone on the train, buses, in cabs, and even while walking (sorry!), the idea of relying on WiFi only isn't appealing or even realistic. But, there's a large percentage of the population who use their devices only at home and in the office, for the most part. Combine that with the substantial cost savings, and a WiFi-first service should appeal to a lot of people. I think it's especially well suited for the younger users that want to jump on a family plan. The mall has hotspots, right?

I've been playing around with Scratch Wireless' Motorola Photon Q, and the service works as advertised. It's not a seamless experience: if you're on a call over WiFi, it drops when you leave the reach of the signal. But, Scratch executives tell me it's not supposed to be -- it's designed to be completely free, so the user selects when they want to use cellular and should never be surprised with a charge from the phone handing off without their knowledge.

Republic Wireless is different in that its customers tend to hop on cellular more, so there is a handoff process for voice calls that should be seamless for them. (See Republic Wireless Revamps Its WiFi Handoff.)

WiFi is still far from perfect. Users get tossed on to broken or overloaded networks. The selection process is often far from smooth. And, while it's many places, it's not everywhere yet. That said, if you're buying service from one of these MVNOs, you probably know -- and accept -- these limitations. It's still too early to know how many of these people are out there, but this will be an interesting industry segment to watch as WiFi continues to improve in terms of ubiquity, reliability, and quality.

Check out the story in the Prime Reading section of the site, and let us know what you think. Is WiFi a viable alternative to cellular service for you? Should the wireless operators be worried about this new crop of startups claiming it will be?

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(20)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
12/31/2013 | 2:43:58 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
I was a bit off with 8 years. I referenced the concept at least back in 2002:

http://www.deltanetwork.org/broadband/auxdox/document_asp.html
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
12/31/2013 | 1:46:38 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
Yeah, when did people start talking about personal area networks? 8 years ago? Might actually start happening in 2014-15 with all these smart watches etc. Or not.
andresetc
50%
50%
andresetc,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/30/2013 | 9:19:02 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
Indeed - LAN's, PAN's and NFC.... micro networks everywhere connecting our watches, spectacles, wallets, home appliances, credit cards, tennis shoes - whatever.... :-)
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
12/30/2013 | 5:53:01 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
It's the M2M provider's dream!
andresetc
50%
50%
andresetc,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/30/2013 | 5:48:49 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
In our very near future - Antennas will be like lightbulbs. Integral will be the backbone provider of course, but the fact that little spectrum umbrellas of WiFi coverage (or whatever other wireless medium becomes the norm), is innevitable.

Much more efficient than a WAN type coverage. The more granularity - the better.

Can you immagine walking around the house the street or the city in the dark ?

Not exactly prophetic - but you heard it here.... 
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
12/30/2013 | 4:41:37 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
Shouldn't you be calling for POTs then? ;-)
RitchBlasi
0%
100%
RitchBlasi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/30/2013 | 2:15:14 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
Yes, VoLTE should change the dynamics on pricing - and it shouldn't surprise anyone that the carriers have no clue on this yet.  Everything gets carried over the data network but video takes up more bandwidth than voice and both take up more than what most apps eat.  Expect montly data packages to increase from the 10GB plans to much more.  And that's without the video calling, right?  Will be interesting to see the first carrier lay out its plans.
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/30/2013 | 1:36:33 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
I think WiFi is interesting but I prefer the QoS possibilities inherent in a unified managed network model, which the FREE model manages to achieve on both counts.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
12/30/2013 | 1:31:29 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
Fon is another interesting company to keep an eye on. Operators are lining up to partner with it, and it's WiFi-sharing model expands the network significantly.
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/30/2013 | 1:29:59 PM
Re: Lost in the WiFi universe
if the US cable co's kept their spectrum instead of handing it over to Verizon, we coulda seen some interesting deployments along these lines.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
Over-the-top content company cuts its famous 120-slide deck down to 10 pages to communicate its values and culture to those both inside and outside of its business.
The ride-hailing company said it has let 20 employees go over an investigation into sexual harassment claims and is still investigating almost 100 others.
Being purposeful and choosing wisely, leveraging mentors, accepting feedback and sticking to her north star helped get Cisco GM Liz Centoni to where she is today.
Women in Comms extends congratulations to the most inspiring woman of the year, Heather Kirksey, and female tech pioneer of the year, Nithya Ramanathan.
Join Women in Comms on May 15 in Austin to discuss the future of tech, how to plan your career for it and much more with some of the industry's top female executives.
From The Founder
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.
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.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment


Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments


Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Hubbard on Intersection of SD-WAN & MPLS

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Rick Hubbard, SVP of Network Product Management for AT&T Business Solutions, discusses how AT&T's approach to SD-WAN fits in with its overall virtualization strategy, explains how SD-WAN can improve enterprise customers' use of the cloud and addresses the intersection of SD-WAN and MPLS.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Keep Connected IoT Devices Under Control With Allot

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Allot AVP of International Pre-Sales, Daniel Keidar, explains how communications service providers can protect infrastructure and service availability from flooding attacks caused by malfunctioning or bot-infected devices connected to their network.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE 5G World Highlights

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcases its leading 5G innovations at 5G World in London.
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
Verizon Warns of $500M Hit From Yahoo Deal
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/16/2017
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
BT Tech Chief Makes Plea to 5G Chip Vendors
Ray Le Maistre, International Group Editor, 6/20/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
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 ...
Animals with Phones
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.