Making Wi-Fi more Worthwhile through New Business Models

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Worldwide, service providers have substantially increased their investment in Wi-Fi with an aim to monetize 3G/4G broadband services as both subscribers and devices tend to connect to Wi-Fi wherever it is in range. This trend will continue for the next few years because Wi-Fi is seen as a perfect way to reinforce capacity in high density urban areas thus, relieving congested cellular networks. While offload is still a priority, service providers wouldn’t want to limit Wi-Fi’s potential right there, would they? To move beyond the vanilla offload stage, they should aim to bring premium-ness to their Wi-Fi roadmap through customized offerings. To put it into logical perspective, even with cheapest rate data plans, if operators don’t address the unique needs of specific subscriber segments, they won’t see any uptake in revenues. In order to avoid this fate, operators should start exploring Wi-Fi solutions which can offer service differentiation for newly evolving market segments through innovative business models:  targeted  customers, non-subscribers, enterprises/small businesses, and even other operators! Of late, some of the business models which have sparked interest include: Hospitality Wi-Fi:  Currently, operator role in this lucrative segment is restricted to just a Wi-Fi service provider, and not a true experience provider. The free Wi-Fi service offered by hotels to guests is often restricted to the lobby or restaurants, and not in-room Wi-Fi, creating a sizeable business need. Operators can upsell innovative services for their existing subscribers and other users who check into these hotels. Elitecore has recently taken the lead in the hotel Wi-Fi segment by offering a Cloud-based centralized, bundled solution through SMP enabling operators to offer cost-effective Wi-Fi access across multiple hotel venues. Standout features include Captive portal access for subscribers, mobile app connect client for Non-EAP SIM users, and a PMS integrator module which has single largest integration capabilities with all leading hotel PMS systems. Hotspot Wi-Fi: Globally, the number of hotspots is expected to double by 2014 as the number of Wi-Fi enabled devices is quadrupling. Operators must make use of this opportunity to offer uninterrupted connectivity and secure access while catering to walk-in and non-operator subscribers through voucher-based plans. Operators can further have partnership-based model with local retail joints like cafes, malls etc. Residential Wi-Fi: Over 60-80% of the time, subscribers can access Wi-Fi from their homes. This means operators can reach this largely untapped segment of residential users with their 3G services, who would like to avail SP Mobile Data Offload through their residential Wi-Fi connection. Elitecore’s SMP solution is capable of customer premise equipment (CPE) provisioning for Wi-Fi connectivity in residential buildings. Enterprise Wi-Fi: With emerging trends like BYOD, enterprises are witnessing huge data consumption which will see a huge demand for operators to extend Wi-Fi connectivity to their enterprise users on top of leased line services (which they already do). A combo cellular + Wi-Fi plan will increase loyalty and uptake among enterprise subscribers. Adding SP hotspot access to these enterprise plans will sweeten the deal! Other interesting business models: include inter-carrier wholesale where operators can lease their Wi-Fi infrastructure to other operators who don’t want to set up their own Wi-Fi infrastructure, allowing users to avail Wi-Fi roaming through partnering hotspots on a per-user or per-MB formula. Operators can offer location-aware/on-demand events in live events to identify Wi-Fi hotspots for users near vicinity and prompting them with appropriate credentials via notification to use Wi-Fi services. Elitecore has been successfully enabling the operators with   latest business models for different markets through its Wi-Fi Service Management Platform which can be viewed at: http://www.elitecore.com/telecompractices/service-provider-wifi-business-models.html

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