WiFi scores both above and below the line for mobile service providers
By Lonnie Schilling, Birdstep CEO
The 20-fold growth in data traffic between now and the end of 2017, coupled with consumer demand for continuity, will see operators increasingly depending upon WiFi for data offload. While the cost saving provided is the most immediate benefit, it is only half the story around the compelling economics of WiFi; the second half of the story is creating a platform for revenue generation.
Hyper-location with WiFiWiFi and next generation applications can now hyper-locate users by exploiting the intelligence around individuals' devices, including location and the current context of what is in the vicinity. This powerful information enables service providers to create truly personalised offers and promotions on the fly, especially indoors and in densely populated locations where, conveniently, WiFi provides the best quality of service.
Imagine then a team sponsor offering a certain groups of fans within a stadium access to limited edition merchandise during a football match, or a restaurant within a shopping mall creating individual offers to people as they pass by at certain times of the day. Service providers could also offer premium content at high quality of service while users are within a certain WiFi hot spot. The opportunities are endless.
Making this all possible is smart data. Carrier grade WiFi will work just like 3G or 4G services, with full support for roaming and handoff, as well as seamless integration with the cellular networks themselves. Allied to smart data we see carrier WiFi becoming a crucial platform for service providers as hot spots become ubiquitous and inbuilt intelligence gives the operator full control over routing of data between WiFi and 4G LTE.
Designed for flexible configuration Finally WiFi is also much better suited than 4G LTE for setting up temporary mobile service at major sporting events or concerts, where there are many people in a small area wanting to communicate at once. WiFi was designed from the outset for flexible configuration inside the workplace and costs far less to set up than for the equivalent capacity through 4G small cells. Operators can monetise these temporary set ups by providing functions like instant replay and related information about the event.
Taken together these gains in capacity, cost per megabits per second, and configuration flexibility mean that WiFi will score both above and below the line for mobile service providers, generating new sources of revenue as well as cutting the cost of data transport.
Birdstep Technology is a provider of smart mobile data and secure mobility for operators, enterprises and governmental organisations.