Wi-Fi Wireless Trends 2015: The New Network

By: Paul Mikkelsen

It’s an exciting time in the wireless industry. Fixed and cable operators are strengthening their positions toward mobile operators in many markets due to the increased demands for broadband capacity. At the same time, all traditional operators are meeting increased competition from over-the-top (OTT) providers that often also introduces alternative revenue models into the equation, including advertising-based concepts.

As if this shouldn’t be enough, Wi-Fi technology has taken the telecom landscape by storm, reshaping and impacting strategies for many carriers literally overnight. So how will these trends and the accelerated roll out of Wi-Fi in all forms, both on the device and network side, impact operators in 2015?

Before we go trend-scouting for 2015, let’s spend a minute on the relevant question: “What’s so great about Wi-Fi?”

In the “good old days", often referred to as “before the iPhone debut in 2007", mobile data usage had just started to become a hot topic. If we take it one step further, and go back to when Blackberry’s iconic 7200 series hit the shelves in 2003, it was already then clear that users wanted a device that integrated phone calls with other mobile data-based applications such as email or web browsing. Did you own one of those blue BlackBerrys? I sure did.

But it was with iPhone’s introduction that mobile data usage started its exponential growth curve. Carrier networks were able to handle this traffic increase for quite some time; but today, demand has simply grown far beyond what many of the traditional carrier networks were designed to take on. That’s where Wi-Fi comes in.

Wi-Fi has been (and still is) used as a network resource and a vehicle onto which carriers can offload mobile data traffic to ease the constraints on their existing mobile networks. Today everyone is trying to connect to Wi-Fi whenever possible, not least driven by the data caps in the cellular networks that most mobile data plans have implemented over the last two years and, of course, high roaming costs when one is out traveling.

As the need of data capacity continues to increase, some mobile operators have gone beyond their own controlled Wi-Fi networks by doing their best to help users connect to any available public amenity Wi-Fi networks in an automatic way. Surely this will help them to offloading mobile data to Wi-Fi. But  they forgotten one important thing: as end-consumers we are paying our bills to receive good services – NOT to be pushed to any “best effort” and “uncontrolled” network.

Mobile operators without their own Wi-Fi network, or well-controlled partner networks, are facing an obvious risk to reduce their relevance among existing customers. So it boils down to: less relevant = less customers = less revenues = less profit.


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