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Reloading Wi-Fi Offload – It’s show time for Telcos with Mobile Wi-Fi Convergence
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The digital era has empowered us with the ability to stay connected while mobile. Handheld smart devices has led to explosive surge in consumption of mobile data coupled with easy access to bandwidth intensive applications, which has resulted into clogging of mobile networks. A worrying situation for Telcos, indeed! Suddenly, Wi-Fi, a decades old technology has found favours from Telcos, as it is the best alternative to offload data. Naturally, Wi-Fi is making impressive strides as the transmission technology of choice for Internet data and now even for voice, as with Wi-Fi calling in place it is reported that 40% of Internet mobile traffic is carried fully on Wi-Fi. Operators around the globe are opting for Wi-Fi offload (also known as Mobile Wi-Fi Convergence) to enhance their existing network performance and generate new revenue streams. However, the one weak spot in Wi-Fi remains- the seamless interworking with cellular technologies- despite efforts of the cellular world and Wi-Fi ecosystem to promote collaboration. The industry with WLAN and 3GPP standard enhancements as well as the operators are investing in optimizing and bringing the best possible solution to make the Offload count and users happy. Let’s explore a few possible ways to streamline the services by addressing the common challenges offload portrays, which will help deliver an enhanced customer experience. Automatic Network Selection Intelligence Users like to be notified about the Wi-Fi hotspots outside homes and would like to have the same level of service as their cellular network. Hardly so! In case of Public Wi-Fi hotspots. Moreover, user expects seamless handover from cellular to Wi-Fi without session breakage; again an irritant with the Public Wi-Fi. To address this Automatic Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDSF) comes to the rescue. It enables operators with managed offload and traffic steering by supporting devices to intelligently discover Wi-Fi access in nearby locality and dynamically select the preferred network and deploy defined policies on devices, preferences etc. enhancing smooth Wi-Fi and cellular interworking. Mobile App based Smart and Seamless Offload To decongest the existing cellular networks and optimize bandwidth, Mobile App such as Elite Connect Mobile App helps operators to offload the mobile data traffic from 3G/4G onto Wi-Fi hotspots. With an OTP based one-time sign-in, the app seamlessly offloads the user, reducing churn. Automatic and transparent, the app performs secure authentication, making it preferable for a wide range of smart devices. In fact, Vodafone Germany announced that they’re testing a new app that will connect users to the best wireless network including Wi-Fi hotspots. So the collaboration is already in progress. Security Assurance for Access By far the largest problem is secured session access. Users who are not familiar with the concept of secured authentication are very reluctant to trust 3rd party hotspots; this is probably the biggest reason why users prefer to off-load to their own home Wi-Fi rather than allowing automatic off-load to public Wi-Fi hotspots. Cellular network security is based mostly on SIM based authentication and has a good reputation nonetheless; EAP-SIM offered with a standard compliant AAA, if deployed in public hotspots with automatic offload will increase the seamless nature of the access and increase trust among users. Monetization, of course! Operators biggest pain point is how to generate revenue by offloading low-revenue high-volume internet traffic from the expensive cellular network to the cheaper, unlicensed, low-range Wi-Fi network. Recently, BSNL India announced the launch of Mobile Data offload services where BSNL Wi-Fi will allow BSNL mobile customers to switch over to high speed Wi-Fi data services whenever a user enters Wi-Fi hot spot zone. After off-loading mobile data traffic to Wi-Fi hot spot, mobile users continue to consume their mobile data plan but for accessing internet, they start using robust and high capacity back end connectivity of Wi-Fi hot spot. This is for operator’s subscribers only. To go beyond just Wi-Fi, service providers will have to define advanced Wi-Fi monetizing models and a platform for differentiated services such as paid Wi-Fi access to non-subscribers, location based services, e-commerce tie-ups, promoting offers, app downloads and sponsored links to line up an additional revenue channel or recover the Capex/Opex on Wi-Fi infrastructure. Concluding remarks… A successful offload strategy will not only help operators minimize capital and operating expenditures, but also heighten quality of service while improving customer experience. Almost certainly this is what all operators know, but the demand is for a comprehensive enabler like Elitecore SMP, a leading provider of Wi-Fi platform that enables service providers with next-gen Mobile Data offload Solution and help them make the right move. Click here to know more.