& cplSiteName &

WiFi Gets Around

Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
6/13/2014
50%
50%

"WiFi is a threat because we're vulnerable," the CEO of a Tier 1 US mobile operator said as he explained how the acquisition of a hotspot operator would enable his company to co-opt that threat. "It's coverage where they want it and speed where they need it."

No, you didn't miss a big merger and acquisition (M&A) story. That was VoiceStream CEO John Stanton at the 2002 CTIA show, where the hot topic was whether cellular and WiFi were friends, enemies or something in between. Stanton shared the keynote stage with Boingo Wireless founder Sky Dayton, who agreed that some synergy was in order: "Sooner or later, it's 'Your chocolate fell in my peanut butter.'"

That analogy must have stuck with Tom Wheeler, who was there as CTIA president and CEO, as he dusted off part of it a few weeks ago when announcing that the FCC would free up another 100MHz in the 5GHz band to alleviate WiFi congestion. "In 2014, licensed and unlicensed spectrum are more complementary than competitive," Wheeler said. "They are less oil and vinegar and more peanut butter and jelly."

When smartphone usage skyrocketed circa 2008, that synergy was in the form of offload. But that role is becoming secondary as mobile operators find additional uses for WiFi, including as a way to enable international roaming and get around LTE's band fragmentation. That's one key finding from the new Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider, "Carrier Wi-Fi Roaming: Old Dog, New Tricks."

For example, in April 2013, AT&T added 1GB of data per month to its 300MB and 80MB Data Global Add-On package via Boingo's hotspots in 30 airports. "I don't look at it as necessarily freeing up capacity on the cellular network," says J.R. Wilson, AT&T vice president of partnerships and alliances and Wireless Broadband Alliance chair.

Many hotspot aggregators agree: "We believe that the industry has moved beyond offload," says Brian Metzger, iPass head of marketing for global channels. "The approach the mobile network operators are taking with WiFi is far more thoughtful and far more sophisticated. They're now looking at WiFi as a strategic integrated network asset."

That ability is getting a boost from cable operators' aggressive forays into WiFi, as well as from industry initiatives such as Hotspot 2.0. Those activities are inching WiFi closer to cellular-style and cellular-scale roaming.

But in the process, they're making WiFi more of a threat than it was back in 2002. Case in point: Scratch Wireless is an example of a new breed of mobile operators that use cellular as a fallback to WiFi, a reverse of the far more common model. These operators wouldn't exist if WiFi weren't prevalent enough to stand in for cellular in the eyes of many consumers. These operators will benefit as WiFi roaming becomes easier, more robust and more widespread thanks to MSO buildouts and Hotspot 2.0. "The cable WiFi initiative is a great benefit to us," says Jon Finegold, Scratch Wireless vice president of marketing. "Anything that makes WiFi more cellular-like is good tailwind for us."

Scratch bears watching by cable operators, consumer electronics vendors, social networking companies, and other businesses that are interested in whether a WiFi-centric or WiFi-only service resonates with enough consumers, or whether a cellular-first strategy makes more sense. One thing is clear: WiFi will be shaking up telecom for years to come.

— Tim Kridel, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider


This report,"Carrier Wi-Fi Roaming: Old Dog, New Tricks," is available as part of an annual subscription (6 issues per year) to Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/4glte.

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/25/2014 | 5:32:28 AM
Re: Scratching wireless
Wi-Fi is the most reliable cellular carrier. It without a doubt dominates over all of the cellular signals. Most of the first world countries have adopted it to be their sole source of internet because of its effectiveness. The other advantage to wireless is the coverage that it makes. It can cover a very large area and the best thing about it is the fact that it is cheap. Wireless will without a doubt be shaking up telecom for years to come because of its efficiency and reliability.
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/15/2014 | 2:37:24 PM
Re: Scratching WiFi
I agree. I like the Scratch Wireless model. It's a bet that Wifi will end up dominating over cellular signals, and I think that's going to be a reality. 

There are issues in terms of coverage and reliability however. That makes it a dicey propostion to me as a potential customer. For the time being, I think I will stick with the reliability of one of the major cellular carriers. 
tb100
50%
50%
tb100,
User Rank: Moderator
6/13/2014 | 3:55:33 PM
Republic Wireless
Republic Wireless has been doing this for years now. 

I'm curious, though. Where is there so much WiFi that this would even work? Is this for people who live in large cities?
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/13/2014 | 12:53:53 PM
Scratching WiFi
Scratch Wireless seems to be on to something. The idea of using wifi with celluar as backup does reverse our previous patterns. With more expensive cellular bills looming for most customers, the trend should follow that customers will seek out wifi when possible, and go to cellular if it's not, at least I would.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
The major topic of discussion at Nokia's Network Management Breakfast, held in Nice during TM Forum Live 2016, was the automation of network operations to support 5G.
As data traffic continues to expand quickly each year, demand for 400G connections also expands, making way for numerous opportunities for vendors who make 400G components.
In a continental coming-out party for cable's new broadband spec, European cable operators embrace gigabit speeds that DOCSIS 3.1 promises to deliver.
As network operators and vendors are preparing for 5G systems, antenna research and development (R&D) is expanding to help meet the performance requirements that will be needed in the very near future.
Operators have firmly identified VNF architecture as the next hurdle on the critical path to NFV, and the clamor for cloud-native VNFs is growing rapidly.
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
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
Energy 2020: Growing Services, Not Consumption

6|24|16   |   07:18   |   (0) comments


Management of power requirements needs to be a key consideration as cable operators deploy new services, says Dan Cooper, vice president of critical infrastructure for Charter Communications and chair of the SCTE/ISBE Standards Program's Energy Management Subcommittee. In this video, Cooper discusses the importance of cable operators and technology partners ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei & TDC First to Launch DOCSIS 3.1 Trial in Europe

6|24|16   |     |   (0) comments


To meet the rising demands for high-speed broadband and to tackle fierce competition for 1.5 million household, TDC wanted to upgrade its network to use the latest technology. Using Huawei's DOCSIS 3.1 solution, TDC is now able to offer gigabit speeds to its customers.
LRTV Documentaries
OPNFV Summit: Key Takeaways

6|22|16   |   03:28   |   (0) comments


MANO shortfalls, an increasingly bloated open source ecosystem and the cultural challenges for network operators were among the key takeaways from the OPNFV Summit in Berlin.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bringing Ultra Broadband to the South Pacific

6|22|16   |   7:55   |   (0) comments


At Singapore's UBBS 2016 summit, Light Reading speaks to Lim Chee Siong, Huawei's CMO in the South Pacific Region.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper's NFV Platform

6|22|16   |     |   (0) comments


A telco cloud is a key enabler for service providers to deliver virtualized services to their customers. Juniper has a differentiated approach with an open and comprehensive NFV platform to build the cloud of the future for multiple use cases.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera: The Glass Ceiling's Been Broken

6|22|16   |   4:34   |   (0) comments


Shannon Williams, an engineer by trade and now the director of sales for Infinera's major accounts, draws confidence from being a female in a male-dominated industry and hopes other women will too as industry dynamics swing in our favor.
LRTV Custom TV
RAD Demonstrates SD-WAN Functionality at BCE 2016

6|22|16   |     |   (0) comments


In conjunction with Versa Networks, RAD demos a joint solution for SD-WAN implementation. The solution uses RAD's ETX-2i, a vCPE platform integrating a powerful IP and Carrier Ethernet NID/NTU with a field-pluggable x86 NFV module that runs Versa's FlexVNF for SD-WAN functionality. The demo implements SD-WAN over a simulated service provider footprint by deploying ...
LRTV Custom TV
Radware on Virtualizing Network Security

6|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


Radware's Michael O'Malley highlights the benefits for service providers of virtualizing network security.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei 2016 UBBS World Tour: Singapore

6|21|16   |   02:39   |   (0) comments


Highlights from Huawei's UBBS World Tour event in Singapore.
LRTV Custom TV
The FlowBROKER Solution

6|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


During a demo at the Big Communications Event 2016, Accedian director of product line solutions Greg Spear demonstrates how the FlowBROKER distributed packet capture solution (part of Accedian's SkyLIGHT platform) can be used to troubleshoot and resolve QoE issues.

FlowBROKER is the industry's first lossless remote packet capture solution, which uses ...

LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2016: Dell & the New World Order

6|21|16   |   22:48   |   (0) comments


Dell's Jim Ganthier on how the very essence of enterprise is being affected by digital disruption – and how the cloud can help companies find a path forward.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2016: The CSP of the Future

6|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Traditional telecom operators have been adopting new ways of doing business from the IT sector and emulating web-scale companies in their technology adoption. Are these strategies succeeding? A panel of experts at BCE considered the evidence...
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
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
FCC to Vote on 5G Spectrum on July 14
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 6/20/2016
'Brexit' Vote Hits BT, Vodafone
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/24/2016
Twitter Buys Magic Pony... Not That Kind
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/20/2016
AT&T Settles on LTE for Cellular IoT
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 6/22/2016
Google Fiber Buys Webpass in Wireless Play
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/23/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
At the BCE 2016 show in Austin, ECI Telecom CEO Darryl Edwards tells Light Reading founder and CEO about the Elastic Network concept and the company's NFV and cybersecurity developments.
Mark Dzuban, president and CEO of SCTE/ISBE, sits down with Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York office to discuss the society's Energy 2020 campaign, including its mission to benefit the environment, enable economic benefits and the key challenges facing cable operators wanting to reduce energy consumption.
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.