Seamless International Wi-Fi Roaming for End-User

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Surge in mobile data traffic and smartphone usage.
  2. What are the Wi-Fi Roaming Opportunities?
  3. How does International Mobile Roaming work?

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

Overview

While global mobile data traffic and smartphone usage are growing exponentially, mobile subscribers are typically forced to restrict data usage when traveling abroad, either due to connectivity issues or high international mobile roaming costs. The current limitations of mobile connectivity for global travelers has meant that Wi-Fi has become the connection of choice at airports, hotels and other tourist hubs, that is, wherever hotspots are available.

Not surprisingly then, the Wi-Fi hotspot market size is likely to reach $3.5 billion by 2023, according to Infonetics Research. According to Cisco VNI Mobile, 2017, globally, total public Wi-Fi hotspots will increase from 94.0 million in 2016 to 541.6 million by 2021. This is a missed opportunity for CSPs to provide a seamless customer experience at home and abroad.

Source: Infonetics Research, Carrier Wi-Fi Equipment 2015

What are the Wi-Fi Roaming Opportunities?

With Wi-Fi Roaming, international travellers can use their SIM cards to authenticate themselves to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot, access data and make voice calls over Wi-Fi networks without incurring any roaming charges. To put it simply, Wi-Fi roaming enables international subscribers to break out locally.

For CSPs, Wi-Fi roaming can offer multiple benefits:

• Retain customers by offering them a seamless user experience during international travel

• Gain additional revenue by charging subscribers both for cellular as well as bundled Wi-Fi packages

• Expand their footprint by partnering with global operators and enhancing reach to international network customers

How International Mobile Roaming Works?

Source: International Roaming Report, GSMA

Sterlite Tech, a global technology leader in digital networks and telecom and networking software solutions, provides a robust international Wi-Fi roaming platform for CSPs which integrates seamlessly with third-party components in the partner network.

This solution helps CSPs:

1) Create Wi-Fi roaming data plans

CSPs can create Wi-Fi data plans attached to subscribers’ mobile services. Per the data defined in the Wi-Fi plan, subscribers travelling to another country can seamlessly connect to the partner network and access Wi-Fi at a lower cost.

2) Integrate with partner CSP network

The solution can help manages user authentication, billing, data management, and partner settlement transactions with simple integration and configuration processes.

3) Leverage existing Wi-Fi Hotspots

CSPs that have already invested in Wi-Fi infrastructure locally can enhance their reach to international roaming customers by offering them the same level of service quality as they are offering to native subscribers. It helps in additional revenue generation as well as gaining the reputation of being a global brand.

4) Support different traffic and devices

The solution can support both SIM-based and non-SIM based devices, simplifying seamless connectivity between devices and networks. The QoS and service experience is also enhanced.

5) Ensure subscriber satisfaction

Subscribers who are sensitive about high data roaming charges can actually get a relief and stay connected to friends, family and colleagues without interruption. In fact, the Wi-Fi network will remain available even where there is no mobile connectivity, greatly enhancing subscriber satisfaction. As the chart below shows, offload traffic from both mobile devices and Wi-Fi-only devices together will account for 47% of total IP traffic by 2020. As the demand for Wi-Fi on the move increases, Sterlite Tech International Wi-Fi Roaming solution can help CSPs partner with other local operators, enhancing their reach to a wider subscriber base.

Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2016–2021 White Paper

There is a definite move towards wireless connectivity becoming seamless with wired networks to offer a seamless user experience. It is essential now more than ever that CSPs step up to plan future network deployments which will create an adaptable environment that can handle the huge of onslaught of smart devices and VR/AR applications.

FAQS

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 use to access 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 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 higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data.

This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities. There are three main components of a optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate,Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major usescases of optical fibre cables include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.

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