Intelligent Wi-Fi Offload Creates New Opportunities for Operators

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As mobile data traffic continues to grow at an incredible pace, a new issue is emerging for many operators: how can they expand capacity to meet the demands on the network without incurring a significant rise in CAPEX and OPEX? For many, the best solution is mobile data offload, which allows users to switch from the cellular network to an available Wi-Fi network when consuming mobile data services.

However, that’s oftentimes easier said than done. When users are roaming, they currently need to latch onto a roaming partner hotspot manually from a list of SSIDs. That can be pretty straightforward when there’s only a few to choose from, but in dense urban areas, there may be hundreds of SSIDs. The difficulty of this process can cause user frustration and mistakes. At the same time, carriers lose the opportunity for their roaming policies to affect network selection, resulting in higher roaming fees paid to non-preferred hotspot operators, reduced service levels and poor customer experience.

Enter intelligent offload. Many operators are now taking this route, which allows the transfer of data traffic from mobile network, such as femtocell or small cell, to the Wi-Fi network intelligently, seamlessly, and only when it makes sense.

Elitecore’s Wi-Fi Service Management Platform (SMP) supports Hotspot 2.0, an approach introduced by Wi-Fi Alliance for public access Wi-Fi to provide secure Access Network Delivery Selection Function (ANDSF) from a list of available Wi-Fi networks. The idea is for mobile devices to automatically join a Wi-Fi subscriber service whenever the user enters a Hotspot 2.0 area. This allows operators to provide more bandwidth and services-on-demand to end-users, while also alleviating traffic on their network.

Let’s look at a few of the benefits Wi-Fi SMP enables:

  • Intelligent selection and decision making between heterogeneous networks as to when to offload users onto Wi-Fi and what policies to implement.
  • Support for Passpoint-compliant Hotspot 2.0 and ANDSF enable the smart device to discover non-3GPP access networks (for example, Wi-Fi and WIMAX) to enforce the user policies.
  • Support for policy-on-device solutions that select the best network (3G/4G/Wi-Fi) based on cost, performance and other policy-driven features, which enables proper bandwidth utilization.
  • Carrier Wi-Fi convergence, which allows interworking between cellular and Wi-Fi networks (3GPP-enabled 3G/4G/LTE Wi-Fi interworking).
  • Smooth handover from one network to the other and intelligent policy enforcement decisions
  • Improved user access to all the subscribed services, with seamless connectivity.

Elitecore Wi-Fi SMP enables operators to meet the emerging demand of mobile data offload through Wi-Fi to alleviate existing challenges in network congestion. It’s a highly interoperable platform with features designed to handle the end-to-end intelligent offload process, including authentication, billing, captive portal, location-aware services, subscriber analytics and integration with mobile core. This innovative solution allows operators to tap new revenue opportunities with rapid and cost-effective deployments. Learn more about the key features of Wi-Fi SMP here.

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