What do MNOs need to know about Intelligent Offloading?

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We go through 3 important things that MNOs need to know about Intelligent Oflloading in this article and how they can thrive using this knowledge.

Mobile network operators (MNOs), or wireless service providers, that are worth their salt will arm themselves with an intelligent data offloading strategy to stay relevant and competitive in today’s marketplace. The need for this is simple: The continued proliferation of Internet-connected devices, like smartphones and tablets, encourages greater data consumption. And as more data is generated, consumed and shared, mobile networks will become constrained, negatively impacting the quality of service that is delivered. By offloading some of this data using complementary network technologies, like WiFi and femtocells, service providers can ensure an optimum user experience while helping lower their own costs. The mobile data and intelligent offloading market is experiencing an increase in activity as a result of this exponential growth. To be able to react quickly to market shifts, MNOs need to keep abreast of events, starting with the three we highlight here:

A.  Operators entertaining 4G-based femtocells should know WiFi reigns supreme.

Worldwide femtocell and enterprise small cell equipment revenue reached $144 million in 1Q14—a 6 percent increase from that time last year, according to a June 2014 Infonetics Research report. While operators are encouraged to use WiFi to offload mobile data for increased success, and the majority of MNOs currently do, the femtocell market is slowly showing growth. Nonetheless, WiFi is encouraged by top industry pundits for MNOs not only for data offload, but for overall network efficiency. “Mobile operators are firmly behind carrier WiFi as a key solution for mobile offload,” said Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave, mobile offload and mobile broadband devices at Infonetics Research. Webb further stated that while data offload is the current priority, in coming years operators will want to see a closer integration of WiFi with the mobile network so that offload becomes more intelligent, automated and seamless. “They want to utilize WiFi not only to augment mobile services but to enhance the network itself by becoming an integrated part of the mobile network,” he explained.

B.   Operators need new WiFi access points to stay competitive.
Still, according to Webb, “Best-effort WiFi is no longer good enough; mobile operators need carrier-class sophistication.” The fastest-growing monetization models for WiFi services include tiered/premium hotspots, managed hotspots and WiFi roaming. “Offload of data traffic is not enough, “WiFi’s got to pay for itself.” Driven by this need, operators will spend $8.5 billion on carrier WiFi equipment leading up to 2017.

C.   The right Solution is mandatory to properly monetize your services.
Driven by the surge of data traffic and varying industries looking to capitalize on WiFi (for example, Analyst reports that hotels, sports and entertainment venues, airports, train stations and retail malls will see significant growth as carrier WiFi deployment locations by 2014), operators must embrace bleeding-edge, industry-leading WiFi service management solutions to ensure they can cater to this accelerated growth, as well as handle mobile data offload to alleviate network congestion. A pre-integrated and modular platform supports innovative business models by catering to multiple deployment scenarios. Furthermore, the WiFi monetization framework creates immense revenue opportunities for providers aiming to lead the charge. From SIM-based user authentication to Captive Portal to WISPr 2.0 compliancy, STL’s WiFi Service Management Platform (SMP) boasts the key features mobile operators need to enable quick, simple and effortless data offload, as well as for setting up WiFi hotspots. Click here to learn more about STL’s industry-leading WiFi offering.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What is a LTE network?

LTE or commonly known as long-term evolution is a global open interoperable standard for wireless high-speed cellular data and is the technology behind today’s 4G cellular networks. LTE provides high-speed mobile broadband data, telephone services like VoLTE ie Voice over LTE, Multimedia video support, public safety functions such as secure database access, computer-aided design, mapping, remote management systems, and non-mission critical push to talk service. This standard is developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

An LTE network has four major components: Core Network (Often called the brain of the subsystem, it consists of gateways and servers that control access, quality of service, billing, and network policies), Radio Access Network (These are the cell sites/towers and consists of transceiver equipment eNodeB and antennas that provides wireless coverage to the device), backhaul network(It consists of fibre & microwave connections and it connects the radio access network to the core network), User Equipment (It consists of mobile devices, routers etc. and it helps connect directly to the radio access network).

Four major features of LTE are:

a) Exclusive Spectrum – Better spectrum allocation with the division between commercial and mission-critical services

b) High Speed – LTE networks are typically designed with three sectors on each site and each sector supports the same amount of data. Each sector usually supports 40Mbps of data.

c) Priority and Preemption – It allows the network operator to make sure that the most important traffic always gets allocated to the priority user even if the network gets busy.

d) Self Organising Networks (SON) – It allows the network to automatically self-heal itself during outages ie temporarily one cell site can compensate for the non-functional site avoiding a communication blackout. This allows the users in the sector to access the service but the throughput may vary because more users get added to the specific sector.

2. 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.).

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