Carrier WiFi

Report: AT&T to Put Wi-Fi in 20 NYC Parks

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is reportedly planning to let Wi-Fi take the strain off its 3G networks in 20 New York parks with a major extension of its mobile data off-load program in the Big Apple this year.

The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson will get together with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Thomas Jefferson Park to reveal details of the Wi-Fi plan.

AT&T has already deployed Wi-Fi "hotzones" in Times Square, The Rockefeller Center and areas in Charlotte, N.C., Chicago and San Francisco. The deployments, which use mesh technology to extend the range of the wireless LAN signal, are intended to speed up mobile data downloads and off-load traffic from AT&T's 3G cellular network onto Wi-Fi.

The operator uses equipment from BelAir Networks Inc. and others in its deployments, according to the Journal. The system works by co-locating carrier Wi-Fi access points with AT&T's cellular base stations and then using mesh radios to extend the range of the signal. Basically, the meshed radios act in concert as if they were one giant Wi-Fi hotspot. (See Wireless Mesh: Ready!)

Why this matters
Despite faster 3G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) deployments, AT&T is still expanding its Wi-Fi footprint as a cost-effective way of relieving the data pressure on its cellular network. Even Verizon Wireless -- a notable hold-out on the hotzones concept -- now plans to follow suit.

For more
Read more about AT&T's Wi-Fi ways:

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:02:36 PM
re: Report: AT&T to Put Wi-Fi in 20 NYC Parks

Some of  these deployments are probably going to be pretty big to cover NYC parks.

jayja 12/5/2012 | 5:02:27 PM
re: Report: AT&T to Put Wi-Fi in 20 NYC Parks Pardon a question from a wireline guy. How does this help? If the AP is on the same tower as the cell phone antenna, they are both using the same backhaul?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:02:24 PM
re: Report: AT&T to Put Wi-Fi in 20 NYC Parks


There are actually 4 portions of a mobile network:

1 - Air Access:  WiFi helps here if the Air itself is congested.

2 - Backhaul:  WiFi partially helps here (complicated explanation below)

3 - Switching Center:  WiFi helpes here.

4 - Core:  WiFi helps here.

Okay, the complicated bit is that AT&T does not have anywhere near the number of Mobile Switching Centers as the do Central Offices.  Most Urban Central Offices are Internet POPs nowadays.  What this means is that the WiFi traffic can be directed to the Internet right out of the CO.  The Mobile Traffic has to be hauled back to the Switching Center and this is very costly.



jayja 12/5/2012 | 5:02:23 PM
re: Report: AT&T to Put Wi-Fi in 20 NYC Parks Got it. Thanks Seven.
jayja 12/5/2012 | 5:02:23 PM
re: Report: AT&T to Put Wi-Fi in 20 NYC Parks

Thanks Seven.  Quite clear.  I assumed the cell network would connect to the Internet at the first building (CO-Switch-etc.) it encountered.  Will this change for 4G since it is all IP?

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:02:23 PM
re: Report: AT&T to Put Wi-Fi in 20 NYC Parks


Nope...the problem is mobility.  The IP stack for mobile networks is not your standard IP stack.  Think about the routing issues.  You were over here on this router port and now you are over there.  Hey wait...you just changed subnets but your IP address did not change!



GigabitGen 12/5/2012 | 4:59:24 PM
re: Report: AT&T to Put Wi-Fi in 20 NYC Parks

Hi.  In this area, I don't think there are many novice questions.  I appreciate the answer from seven but i think, my opinion please, I'd like to add my 2 cents.  Re: WiFi, like in the proposed parks or at your coffee shop, this traffic really never sees the cellular network and the Carrier, although they have a role in the authenication for access, never really sees inside your intenet traffic.  They are essentially "blind" to anything other than you have established a session.

WiFi, as seven points out, is important to Carriers because the "Cellular Data" traffic places an extreme burden on the carriers network, access, switching and transport.  WiFi off-load by-passes these network elements.  One area usually not discussed, is also the burden the data traffic causes to the Carriers back-office systems, especially when you are setting up all of the network components / back-office systems to handle video.  This all means cost the the Carriers,degraded network preformance, frustrated customers, etc.

Carriers know this but they still are not doing it in an organized network approach where they know the content of the IP session, co-locate Wifi with the mini-cell site, use old wireline methods like star topology, instead of Mesh WiFi( increased latency, cost etc.) so in some respects, even the Carriers are novices.



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