& 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
5G will be the first cellular technology to launch in an era when the Internet is routinely weaponized, which will require CSPs to radically rethink their security strategies.
There's lots of pre-5G activity in the mobile market and it's highlighting the need for new test and measurement tools.
The combination of cloud, artifical intelligence (AI) and applications development could be very powerful for communications service providers.
You'll probably hear a lot of 5G flannel in Barcelona this year – but the Global 5G Test Summit promises to get beyond the hype.
As the fiber network landscape grows increasingly complex, effective network monitoring is becoming more important than ever, and key to carrier competitiveness.
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
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
What WTTX Can Deliver

2|23|17   |     |   (0) comments


Mohamed Madkour explains the benefits of WTTX while Dimitris Mavrakis discusses the challenges of delivering home broadband access.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei on Mobile Broadband

2|23|17   |     |   (0) comments


Mohamed Madkour shares his vision on MBB for the next three years.
LRTV Custom TV
Analysys Mason Talks About the Future of Digital Operations

2|23|17   |     |   (0) comments


The future of digital operations has three key aspects: 1. Highly automated operations for both service and network; 2. Highly converged BSS/OSS for business and resources; 3. Highly merged management and control for real-time cloud native operations.
LRTV Interviews
Software Trends in the Telecom Sector

2|23|17   |   03:40   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading senior analyst James Crawshaw talks with Telecoms.com Editorial Director Scott Bicheno about trends and developments in the telecoms software sector and what to expect at MWC 2017.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei's Pre-MWC Analyst Briefing 2017 Highlights

2|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei shares its vision for this year's MWC.
LRTV Interviews
MWC17: 5G, Cloud RAN & More

2|21|17   |   04:35   |   (0) comments


Ovum Senior Analyst Julian Bright talks to Scott Bicheno from Telecoms.com about all things MWC, including Cloud RAN, Huawei's pitch to the industry and the road to 5G.
LRTV Interviews
MWC 2017's Key 2-Letter Terms

2|20|17   |   08:29   |   (1) comment


5G, AI, VR... these are just some of the two-letter terms that will dominate show-floor chat at MWC 2017 in Barcelona, according to these two blow-hards (a.k.a. Scott Bicheno of Telecoms.com and Light Reading's Ray Le Maistre). And then there's PB...
LRTV Interviews
Key Trends for Mobile Operators in Developing Markets

2|20|17   |   06:37   |   (0) comments


Ovum's Matthew Reed talks to Scott Bicheno from Telecoms.com about the challenges and opportunities facing mobile operators in the developing markets of Africa and the Middle East.
LRTV Documentaries
YouTube Takes on Facebook Live-Streaming

2|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


Popular 'YouTubers' will be the first to get the new service on their smartphones. You have been warned.
LRTV Custom TV
Open Source NFV/SDN Automation

2|17|17   |   05:54   |   (0) comments


AT&T ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy) code is transitioning into the Linux Foundation for placement into open source. In this video, Carol Wilson provides an update on the maturation of open source ECOMP and meets with industry leaders from AT&T, Bell Canada, Orange, Linux Foundation and Amdocs to discuss what this means for the ...
LRTV Documentaries
Uber & NASA Collaborate on Flying Car Project

2|16|17   |     |   (0) comments


Is Uber for real? Well, it's hired NASA engineer Mark Moore to lead the project, and he wouldn't come cheap.
LRTV Documentaries
Zuckerberg Tries Out the Oculus Rift VR Glove

2|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Facebook CEO shows off a new way to interact with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset: an Oculus glove.
Upcoming Live Events
March 21-22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
March 22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
March 22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
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
Uber's HR Nightmare: Company Investigates Sexual Harassment Claims
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 2/21/2017
Broadband Has a Problem on the Pole
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/21/2017
Verizon to Start Fixed 5G Customer Trials in April
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 2/22/2017
Sprint to Go Gigabit Crazy at MWC!
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 2/22/2017
MANO Marriage: ECOMP, Open-O Converge as ONAP
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 2/23/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders chats with Sportlogiq CEO Craig Buntin about sports data analysis.
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Animals with Phones
No One Likes This Click Here
Take a hint!
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.