Wi-Fi gets a makeover
Once considered the “poor relative,” Wi-Fi is being reinvented as a carrier-grade extension to today’s fixed and mobile networks. According to a recent survey from Analysys Mason, on behalf of Amdocs, a record number of wireless and cable operators are turning to Wi-Fi for new market and monetization opportunities. In fact, eighty-nine percent of all service providers surveyed said that Wi-Fi is critical to their growth strategies and have either deployed or plan to leverage Wi-Fi networks.
Beyond data offload
Growing at a staggering rate, the demand for data continues to reach milestones and break records. The Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) report predicts that mobile data traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate of sixty-six percent between 2012 and 2017. And with thirty-three percent of global mobile traffic already offloaded through Wi-Fi or femtocell in 2012, data offloading will remain vital to relieving congested mobile broadband networks. However, as important as data offloading is, service providers are beginning to view Wi-Fi with a different perspective: as a way that they can create service differentiation, add customer value and capture incremental revenue.
From premium Wi-Fi that delivers different classes of service, Wi-Fi roaming, sponsored Wi-Fi, to bring your own Wi-Fi device, service providers are embarking on an initiative that has the potential to provide lucrative, long-term operator value. But, as noted in TM Forum’s, “Profiting from Wi-Fi” report:
“When it comes to Wi-Fi monetization, there is no silver bullet.”
One latte, a croissant and 30-minutes of Wi-Fi, please…
Whether for pleasure or remote office locale, coffee shops have become hotspot havens. Competition for the most desirable Wi-Fi hotspot locations is heating up, and the service providers who are late to stake their hotspot claim will be at a monetization and customer satisfaction disadvantage.
Will operators charge for Wi-Fi hotspot access? Perhaps in time, but current technical barriers and Wi-Fi limitations are challenging service providers to think outside-of-the-box when developing their Wi-Fi strategy.
Looking to a future free of technical barriers and limitations, many operators plan to differentiate and boost revenue by delivering seamless access and a differentiated premium experience with assured speeds, limited access and quality of service. However, to ensure that consumers pay for the services that they use, they’ll need innovative business models that go beyond direct customer charging.
Will consumers balk at paying for a service that they’ve grown accustomed to getting for free? What about you? Will your future coffee shop orders consist of a latte, croissant and premium Wi-Fi services?