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 Wi-Fi 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, but Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi to offload mobile data for increased success, and the majority of MNOs currently do, the femtocell market is slowly showing growth.
Nonetheless, Wi-Fi is encouraged by top industry pundits for MNOs not only for data offload, but for overall network efficiency. “Mobile operators are firmly behind carrier Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi with the mobile network so that offload becomes more intelligent, automated and seamless. “They want to utilize Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi access points to stay competitive
Still, according to Webb, “Best-effort Wi-Fi is no longer good enough; mobile operators need carrier-class sophistication.” The fastest-growing monetization models for Wi-Fi services include tiered/premium hotspots, managed hotspots and Wi-Fi roaming. “Offload of data traffic is not enough, “Wi-Fi’s got to pay for itself.” Driven by this need, operators will spend $8.5 billion on carrier Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi (for example, Analyst reports that hotels, sports and entertainment venues, airports, train stations and retail malls will see significant growth as carrier Wi-Fi deployment locations by 2014), operators must embrace bleeding-edge, industry-leading Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi 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, Elitecore’s Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi hotspots. Click here to learn more about Elitecore’s industry-leading Wi-Fi offering.