Carrier WiFi

Stoke Working on Wi-Fi Offload Upgrades

Mobile gateway startup Stoke Inc. is working on new software to make it easier for smartphone users to connect to Wi-Fi networks that should be ready for Mobile World Congress in 2012.

Stoke isn't saying too much about the software before it gets unveiled in Barcelona. New Stoke CTO Dave Williams did tell LR Mobile, however, that the company is working on making Wi-Fi easier in response to RFIs from "five or six major operators." (See Stoke Stacks $17M More .)

Making Wi-Fi connections more seamless and akin to cellular for smartphone users is generally a win for operators. They get to take traffic off their networks without the user having to intercede.

Stoke is not the only player looking at simpler Wi-Fi connections as a selling point for operators. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) started a trial of Hotspot 2.0 features with Shaw Communications Inc. in Canada last month.

Expect to see a lot of work in this field from many vendors next year.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Francis McInerney 12/5/2012 | 4:49:19 PM
re: Stoke Working on Wi-Fi Offload Upgrades

All the most powerful devices today, like laptops and tablets, and whatever comes down the Moore Curve tomorrow, are for the most part Wi-Fi only.  Thus, carriers do not offload this traffic onto Wi-Fi because, as bypass, they do not see it and cannot monetize it.

We are now well into the post cellular age.  Recovering LTE investment will be tough.  One cellco CEO told me of Wi-Fi, "anything that eliminates the need for LTE investment is good."

Cellcos have to decide how to get back into the wireless game as it shifts to Wi-Fi.  This will not be easy.

FastCache 12/5/2012 | 4:49:17 PM
re: Stoke Working on Wi-Fi Offload Upgrades

At the end of the day owners of any device are not going to be so 'under the hood' as to care whether it is LTE or WiFi or something else. All they worry about is cost, application performance and security. 

There are plenty of converged operators who support both cellular and WiFi. So they get the traffic to their network either way.

Based on what is being reported it seems that the offload issue currently has more to do with the laptops than the smartphones and tablets.

jepovic 12/5/2012 | 4:49:17 PM
re: Stoke Working on Wi-Fi Offload Upgrades

I think the future will be exactly the opposite. Just like cell phones are kicking out wired phones from offices, LTE might very well kick out WiFi.

Why not? LTE is much easier to manage in large installations, the security is much better, roaming is very fast. Operators will offer managed LTE bases for indoor coverage. For companies, it's one less thing to worry about. For the users, it will be much smoother roaming and much better battery utilization.

The volumes will be there, and in fact the volumes in terms of terminals will exceed Wifi in a few years since cell phones are much more common than laptops, globally.  There is no reason why the base stations can't be as cheap as the Wifi bases, and with these low unit prices it's Opex and backhaul that costs anyway.


ryan.james.123 12/5/2012 | 4:49:14 PM
re: Stoke Working on Wi-Fi Offload Upgrades

Havent we heard one offload term or the other from Stoke every year for last many many years, with nothing valuable to be deployed.  This continuous spin of the term offload is getting tiring.  The fact is that business case is incredibly weak to bring the WiFi-offloaded traffic back to the core network and incur all the CAPEX and OPEX associated with adding the capacity there and then operaintg it on an ongoing basis.  

Just offload the low priorty haeavy-duty traffic (like Video) at the WiFi AP to the Internet and be done with it!!!  it addresses the main problem of radio congestion.  Monetization of WiFi offloaded traffic (in which WiFi radio is likely not even owned by the operator) does not have a profitable business case.

OpEd 12/5/2012 | 4:49:10 PM
re: Stoke Working on Wi-Fi Offload Upgrades

Sounds as if the operations team has been heard from, "Dump the users to Wi-Fi, I've got a real network to run here!"  It all sounds fine until those users find no reason to come back. And I suspect the marketing and security teams might have other ideas too.

Moreover, an offload solution need not "bring the traffic back to the core" to glean useful information from it or to apply traffic handling policies to it. But an operator cannot trust the access point for that information.

As for Stoke's beating the Offload drum, I am sure they will be pleased that you've noticed.

ryan.james.123 12/5/2012 | 4:49:09 PM
re: Stoke Working on Wi-Fi Offload Upgrades


"....users find no reason to come back..": --> You gotta be kidding.  When users are not in WiFi range why will they not get back on 3G or LTE connection?


"...security teams might have other ideas..."  -->  and how much is that done in 3G/LTE networks by operators anyways?  Whats the business case?


"...operator cannot trust access point.." --> There is something called authenticaiton on control plane side. It does not require data to be brought back. Besides, you can learn enough about that same subscriber when they are on the 3G/LTE coverage.


"..Offload drum.."  -->  Not sure why they be pleased to know that people are noticing the emptiness of the old drum..

smturner-nyc 12/5/2012 | 4:49:06 PM
re: Stoke Working on Wi-Fi Offload Upgrades

Mobile Data Offload to WiFi is about to enter a next phase, wherein "offload" becomes indistinguishible from typical inter-carrier data roaming:

Blu-Linx Technology [ www.blu-linx.com ] proprietary technolgy imparts 3G/4G/LTE cellular funcrtionality and interoperability to the WiFi spectrum with 3GPP standard-based apporach.

Coupled with ready-available carrier-grade 'super WiFi" antenna/base starions (Altai Technologies, Vivato, Ruckus Wireless, etc.) it is now possible to provide the full array of cellular-grade business support services (AAA services,  auto-authentictaition, User CDR, seamless roaming) along with Carrier value-added services (SMS, MMS, IMS, IPTV) -- all over WiFi-- We propose  metro-wide WiFi SmartZones.

 WiFi can then be effectively "monetized", either by the carrier data plan or as User "free", Ad-Based. And with the abillity to "data harvest" and track User session activity at a granluar level, this can enable an ideal Ad-Based Mobile Platform for the first time.

The result: WiFi  Networks in data trafffic-heavy metro centers, forming a seamless "unlicensed" spectrum Overlay parallel Wireless Network which fully interworks with 3G/4G/LTE: "Bandwidth-on-Demand.

[Blu-Linx CrunchBase Profile:

 http://www.crunchbase.com/company/blu-linx-technology ]

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