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Try the Framework Approach to Wi-Fi Monetisation!

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At the end of this blog, we answer the following frequently asked questions in addition to other topics:

Q1. What is WiFi?

Q2. What is WiFi 6?

If there was one missing piece for mobile operators trying to solve their WiFi puzzle, it would be having a practical revenue model that can guarantee new sources of income!

Are the Benefits of Setting Up WiFi Worth the Expense?

Indeed, most operators would agree that having WiFi offerings in their portfolio significantly boosts customer satisfaction while reducing churn but that also brings the question of justifying cost expenses in setting up WiFi networks. monetising WiFi has become a compelling necessity due to the sheer pervasiveness of WiFi-enabled devices; everywhere people go, their devices connect them through WiFi available in homes, offices and public spaces – stadiums, shopping malls, hotels, convention centres and airports.

However, translating this necessity into reality is not that easy. No matter what stage of WiFi adoption that operators find themselves in, they usually lack innovative ways to monetise WiFi beyond direct charging of customers or hybrid options such as bundled WiFi with existing data plans. Rather than charge only for WiFi use directly, it makes more sense to target customers with real-time WiFi connectivity scenarios and promote content tailored to their interests.

What are the Challenges Operators Face to Monetising WiFi?

Key challenges for operators in WiFi monetisation include:

  1. Enabling an automatic mechanism for subscribers and walk-in users to connect with operator-managed WiFi 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 behaviour 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 WiFi networks are abundant.

So, if there was a service management platform that could overcome the above challenges, wouldn’t it clearly allow operators to have greater control over their monetisation strategy?

So How Can Operators Crack the Code to WiFi Monetisation?

Let us think one step ahead – What if operators stopped viewing these scenarios in isolation, but integrate them into a single, consolidated framework of monetisation that could be applied universally to any business model (hospitality, enterprise, residential etc.), use case (roaming, advertising, discounts and coupons, classic WiFi), venue/location, device (EAP SIM, non EAP SIM) or user profile?

The advantages of a framework approach to monetising WiFi 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 WiFi 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 WiFi ecosystem 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 WiFi which can further enable partnership deals with advertisers so that operators can receive a commission from each impression. Furthermore, geo-fencing of WiFi 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 WiFi services in some locations. This creates a huge opportunity for operators if there was a framework to identify users with say EAP SIM devices that could be automatically redirected to WiFi connectivity hotspots in an operator-defined location.

Frequently Asked Questions Q1. 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 avail to get access to 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 for 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 greater amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

Q2. What is WiFi 6?

WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is also a common name for Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). WiFi 6 is the newest and fastest version of the WiFi 802.11 wireless local area network specification standard. IEEE 802.11ax or commonly marketed as WiFi 6 by the industry body WiFi-Alliance is a major advancement over its previous generation that offers multiple devices to run concurrently on one network without compromising on the data speeds and response times.

The 802.11ax standard was approved by the IEEE on 9th February 2021 is designed to operate between 1 and 7.125 GHz, including the widely used 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. To better understand, WiFi or Wireless Fidelity devices usually translate radio waves into binary code using a technique called QAM ie Quadrature Amplitude Modulation. The older generations of WiFi are capable of 256 QAM ie it could send 8 bits of binary data in a single transmission whereas WiFi 6 is capable of 1024 QAM ie 10 bits of binary data in a single transmission.

This significant increase helps WiFi 6 devices to provide 30% faster speeds than its predecessors. The previous WiFi standards like 802.11/a/g/n/ac used OFDM which meant all of the subcarriers or tones were allocated to a single device at any instance of time. WiFi 5 introduced Multi-user MIMO enabling multiple users on the wireless medium at the same time thereby adding multiple users across different streams with each device using all of the subcarriers

With WiFi 6, OFDMA can now portion up the individual sub-carriers or tones and these can be allocated to a number of devices. Apart from greater bandwidths, higher data speeds snd lower latencies, WiFi 6 also offers better spectrum utilisation using orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA), Multi-user MIMO support, better power consumption and enhanced security protocols.

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