In a previous blog entry, we saw how operators worldwide are leveraging the Wi-Fi offload mechanism to reduce their CapEx on 3G services. The reality, however, is not a cake walk with most operators facing challenge on how to bundle 3G with Wifi along with Technical integration challenges
Here, operators are finding great difficulty in integrating potential Wi-Fi networks with subscriber 3G credentials to directly deduct data usage from their 3G balance. After all, there is no point in promoting untethered Wi-Fi connectivity where you can’t track usage, monetize online sessions or sell value-added services to subscribers.
This monetization gap can only be addressed by new innovations that support maximum number of business cases in actual usage scenarios. These should solve previously technical complexities for operators leading to lesser integration time and costs in leveraging Wi-Fi as an offload mechanism.
For example, achieving seamless Wi-Fi service on mobile phones as well as laptops is a huge challenge because of differences in authentication mechanism. What you need is a solution that can simplify the whole process so that laptop users are able to directly use their existing 3G plan for billing and charging activities.
Taking another example, Not all Smart phones directly support Wi-Fi activation (EAP SIM based Authorization) and users have to tediously undergo the process of registering with a captive portal. It would be far simpler to have a one-stop SMS activation mechanism or MAC ID-based authentication.
Managed Wi-Fi offload can be further ensured by integration with PCRF component so that subscribers get desired QoS, thus, facilitating 3G-like experience over Wi-Fi. To ensure a network-agnostic seamless Wi-Fi experience, the data offload solution should cater to both CDMA and GSM handsets.
If you’re an operator, what is the biggest challenge you have faced when using Wi-Fi offload in your 3G promotion strategy? Please let us know.