Co-existence of 4G / LTE & Wi-Fi for last mile connectivity

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Seems like, 4G/LTE is set to be the most promising mainstream technology for years to come. The global number of 4G-LTE connections is expected to pass 2.5 billion covering over 63% of world’s population by 2020, according to a new study by GSMA Intelligence.

LTE provides significantly increased peak data rates, with the potential for 100 Mbps downstream and 30 Mbps upstream, reduced latency, scalable bandwidth capacity, and backwards compatibility with existing GSM and UMTS technology. Future developments could yield peak throughput on the order of 300 Mbps. LTE is relatively a new technology and many operators are still upgrading their networks to 4G. They are facing huge challenge to increase their LTE reach and add new subscribers. 4G packs are quite expensive and also, many users do not possess LTE compatible devices, keeping new subscribers at bay. These challenges compel operators to find out alternatives such as LTE – Wi-Fi interworking; where operators seamlessly offload their LTE/3G driven subscriber data requirement on to a Wi-Fi Access points and still leverage on their existing infrastructure.

Two Approaches for LTE – Wi-Fi Interworking

Last mile: WIFI, Backhaul: LTE

After heavy investments in deploying LTE network infrastructure, Operators are keen in increasing their LTE subscriber base and reach. Using the backhaul LTE network and providing last mile data services through Wi-Fi proves to be the most advantageous solution. This helps the operator in reaching out to:

  • Walk-in Subscribers using services of a different operator
  • Subscribers not possessing LTE compatible devices can exploit the Wi-Fi services using their Smart phones

LTE to Wi-Fi Offload

A successful union of Wi-Fi and Cellular technologies such as LTE can help the operator to judicially use the optimal technology for specific data application at the user end. For e.g. Large Data applications are downloaded once the user is connected to Wi-Fi.

Business Benefits of LTE-Wi-Fi Interworking

  • LTE- Wi-Fi Interworking allows the operator to provide the same set services / product plans which are already available in existing LTE network
  • Operator can use Wi-Fi as alternate technology to LTE where LTE radio coverage is weak or cost of coverage is higher in comparison to Wi-Fi
  • LTE- Wi-Fi Interworking allows operator to grow their network into rural / distant area and save on transport and OPEX cost
  • Allows Operator launch bundled services – with Wi-Fi
  • With packet core network integration an operator can enable improved visibility and control over Wi-Fi traffic and gain enhanced customer experience
  • Furthermore, users are able to reach their LTE services via both mobile and Wi-Fi accesses. This makes Wi-Fi a truly integral part of mobile broadband access.
  • It enables even closer control over traffic with seamless network-controlled handovers between radio and Wi-Fi even during roaming
  • Session continuity assures that applications are not affected when the user device moves between different Wi-Fi networks as the same IP address is preserved
  • The cost effective methodologies enables customers thirst for growing data and also eases out traffic from their existing networks

Next Gen OSS/BSS Vendors should support both LTE & Wi-Fi Networks on the same platform to ensure smooth transition and offer seamless user experience. To know more on Elitecore Solution: Download Datasheet

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