With an exponential growth in the wireless data intake at the consumer level, telecom operators have started to look at Wi-Fi in a completely new way – the ‘Wi-Fi First Way’. This is a new trend of driving cellular operations where Wi-Fi access technology is automatically given the first preference to deliver connectivity for the customer.
This trend has already seen global deployments in multiple geographies and is set to catch up fast with Asian operators as well. Republic Wireless, Scratch Wireless and Google’s much revered Project-Fi are some of the examples of Wi-Fi First approach to seamless connectivity for the end customers.
What is Wi-Fi First?
Wi-Fi First refers to mobile devices and services that give preference to Wi-Fi as the primary mode of connectivity. Hence in a Wi-Fi First scenario, cellular networks only fill in the network gaps
where Wi-Fi is not available. Customers will automatically be able to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots and quite seamlessly use voice, data and video over Wi-Fi. Whenever Wi-Fi is not available, the device can fall back to 2G or 3G cellular network of the operator.
Driven by the capability to seamlessly provide Wi-Fi connectivity, this can bring in tremendous advantages to the end users and most importantly it can open up new doors to profitability and exploring new age revenue streams for operators.
A recent industry survey suggests that nine out of ten people spend at least nineteen hours a day within Wi-Fi access connectivity. And according to the Wireless Broadband Alliance, the number of Wi-Fi access points is expected to reach 5.8 million by the end of year 2015. This is a huge and multi-fold increase and could literally mean that Wi-Fi is actually getting closer to surpassing cellular network availability.
What is driving Wi-Fi First
A few examples of Wi-Fi First
- 1000x increase in wireless data traffic
- Rise of the availability for hotspots
- Business driven by Analytics and Big Data
- Convergence of Wi-Fi and Cellular
1. Republic Wireless and Scratch Wireless
- Both operators fallback to Mobile Network
- Both operators are Sprint’s MVNO
- FreedomPop is another Wi-Fi First service in the low-cost Internet access segment
- Project-Fi is new MVNO wireless service by Google (for Nexus 6 only)
Wi-Fi is the future?
- Project-Fi combines Wi-Fi + Sprint + T-Mobile into single network
The emergence of Scratch Wireless, Republic Wireless or FreedomPop is a testimony to the fact that Wi-Fi can swiftly drive innovative business models and help operators create market differentiation in an already crowded market scenario.
Most studies recognize the Wi-Fi as the key area of thrust and growth. A research confirms that at least 66 percent of all Internet activity on smartphones is conducted over a Wi-Fi network. This means that better days are ahead for Wi-Fi and it can drive further innovation for the operator community in the coming days.
Elitecore can help by simply empowering operators to seamlessly innovate around Wi-Fi capabilities, Elitecore’s Wi-Fi SMP
can enable MVNOs and MVNEs with business solutions, infrastructure and platforms and support services from access to billing and help them derive more from their network investments.