Light Reading

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
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
Join our fireside chat at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as we discuss the operational implications of NFV with Justin Paul, head of OSS marketing at Amdocs.
The race to deliver gigabit broadband services is accelerating, and G.fast is a key technology that telecom service providers can deploy to compete successfully.
If NFV is to progress, proofs of concept and trials need to come out of the lab and into live networks in 2015.
This year is expected to be a year of great market evolution across most telecom sectors, specifically in virtualization and Long Term Evolution (LTE).
Bring your own device (BYOD) is flourishing, creating the need for better security on shared personal/workplace mobile devices.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Cyber Security Expert Warns: You're Doing It Wrong
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/23/2015
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
Is FCC Weighing Net Neutrality Changes?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 2/25/2015
MWC: Let the Madness Begin
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.