At the end of this blog, we answer the following frequently asked questions in addition to other topics:
Q1. What is WiFi?
Q2. What is WiFi 6?
How can CSPs Maximize WiFi’s Potential?
Worldwide, service providers have substantially increased their investment in WiFi with an aim to monetize 3G/4G broadband services as both subscribers and devices tend to connect to WiFi wherever it is in range. This trend will continue for the next few years because WiFi 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 WiFi’s potential right there, would they? To move beyond the vanilla offload stage, they should aim to bring premium-ness to their WiFi roadmap through customized offerings.
To put it into logical perspective, even with the 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 WiFi solutions that can offer service differentiation for newly evolving market segments through innovative business models: targeted customers, non-subscribers, enterprises/small businesses, and even other operators!
What Are the Different WiFi Business Models?
Of late, some of the business models which have sparked interest include:
Currently, the operator role in this lucrative segment is restricted to just a WiFi service provider, and not a true experience provider. The free WiFi service offered by hotels to guests is often restricted to the lobby or restaurants, and not in-room WiFi, creating a sizeable business need. Operators can upsell innovative services for their existing subscribers and other users who check into these hotels.
Globally, the number of hotspots is expected to double by 2014 as the number of WiFi-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 a partnership-based model with local retail joints like cafes, malls etc.
Over 60-80% of the time, subscribers can access WiFi 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 WiFi connection.
With emerging trends like BYOD, enterprises are witnessing huge data consumption which will see a huge demand for operators to extend WiFi connectivity to their enterprise users on top of leased line services (which they already do). A combo cellular + WiFi 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 WiFi infrastructure to other operators who don’t want to set up their own WiFi infrastructure, allowing users to avail WiFi 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 WiFi hotspots for users near the vicinity and prompting them with appropriate credentials via notification to use WiFi services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is WiFi?
Put simply, Wifi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a Wifi hotspot that people in its vicinity may avail to get access to internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a Wifi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.
To get a little more technical, Wifi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN, that allows for devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since Wifi signals need to carry significantly greater amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).
Q2. What is WiFi 6?
WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is also a common name for Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). WiFi 6 is the newest and fastest version of the WiFi 802.11 wireless local area network specification standard. IEEE 802.11ax or commonly marketed as WiFi 6 by the industry body WiFi-Alliance is a major advancement over its previous generation that offers multiple devices to run concurrently on one network without compromising on the data speeds and response times.
The 802.11ax standard was approved by the IEEE on 9th February 2021 is designed to operate between 1 and 7.125 GHz, including the widely used 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. To better understand, WiFi or Wireless Fidelity devices usually translate radio waves into binary code using a technique called QAM ie Quadrature Amplitude Modulation. The older generations of WiFi are capable of 256 QAM ie it could send 8 bits of binary data in a single transmission whereas WiFi 6 is capable of 1024 QAM ie 10 bits of binary data in a single transmission.
This significant increase helps WiFi 6 devices to provide 30% faster speeds than its predecessors. The previous WiFi standards like 802.11/a/g/n/ac used OFDM which meant all of the subcarriers or tones were allocated to a single device at any instance of time. WiFi 5 introduced Multi-user MIMO enabling multiple users on the wireless medium at the same time thereby adding multiple users across different streams with each device using all of the subcarriers.
With WiFi 6, OFDMA can now portion up the individual sub-carriers or tones and these can be allocated to a number of devices. Apart from greater bandwidths, higher data speeds snd lower latencies, WiFi 6 also offers better spectrum utilisation using orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA), Multi-user MIMO support, better power consumption and enhanced security protocols.