If there was one missing piece for mobile operators trying to solve their Wi-Fi puzzle, it would be having a practical revenue model that can guarantee new sources of income!
Indeed, most operators would agree that having Wi-Fi offerings in their portfolio significantly boosts customer satisfaction while reducing churn but that also brings the question of justifying cost expenses in setting up Wi-Fi networks. Monetizing Wi-Fi has become a compelling necessity due to the sheer pervasiveness of Wi-Fi enabled devices; everywhere people go to, their devices connect them through Wi-Fi available in homes, offices and public spaces – stadiums, shopping malls, hotels, convention centers and airports .
However, translating this necessity into reality is not that easy. No matter what stage of Wi-Fi adoption operators find themselves in, they usually lack innovative ways to monetize Wi-Fi beyond direct charging of customers or hybrid options such as bundled Wi-Fi with existing data plans. Rather than only charge for Wi-Fi use directly, it makes more sense to target customers with real time Wi-Fi connectivity scenarios and promote content tailored to their interests.
Key challenges for operators in Wi-Fi monetization include:
(1) enabling an automatic mechanism for subscribers and walk-in users to connect with operator-managed Wi-Fi hotspots, (2) achieving location-mapping and identification of venues with high footfalls such as hotels, sports and entertainment arenas, airports, train stations and retail malls so that these can be converted into managed hotspots, (3) gathering advanced business intelligence on high traffic destinations, user behavior and time of access at hotspots and finally, (4) having four-way tie-ups with content (advertisers etc.), roaming and location partners so that they can all attract customers through premium value at a time when free and paid Wi-Fi networks are abundant.
So, if there was a service management platform that could overcome above challenges, wouldn’t it clearly allow operators to have greater control on their monetization strategy?
Let us think one step ahead – What if operators stopped viewing these scenarios in isolation, but integrate them into a single, consolidated framework of monetization that could be applied universally to any business model (hospitality, enterprise, residential etc.), use case (roaming, advertising, discounts and coupons, classic Wi-Fi), venue/location, device (EAP SIM, non EAP SIM) or user profile?
The advantages of a framework approach to monetizing Wi-Fi are many: for one, the interlinking between user latch-on access and location-specific services would allow operators to discover, reach out, and connect to a broad range of users and devices in random locations which they couldn’t possibly through individual user segments. Considering that users are statistically in and around a Wi-Fi zone almost 70-80% of the time, there’s strong potential for operators to regain a huge chunk of missed revenue opportunities as the whole Wi-Fi eco-system just got a bit bigger.
The interlinking between customer analytics and data for connected users can be converted into profitable revenue models through personalized push notification for Wi-Fi which can further enable partnership deals with advertisers so that operators can receive commission from each impression. Furthermore, geo-fencing of Wi-Fi coverage can attract and confine profitable users to operator-defined locations.
In an era of automatic system selection and automatic login, people are getting fed up with extensive sign-up and registration processes that screen access to Wi-Fi services in some locations. This creates huge opportunity for operators if there was a framework to identify users with say EAP SIM devices that could be automatically redirected to Wi-Fi connectivity hotspots in an operator-defined location.