Thursday, June 2, 2011

WiFi Data Offload Solution - WiFi as the Sidekick of 3G

3G and WiFi has forged an alliance and friendship (rather than foe) than before. Just like in the comic and movies of Batman and his sidekick Robin, Green Hornet and his Kato, Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto, you are seeing WiFi has becoming like the trusted sidekick to 3G.

Smartphones and handheld devices such as tablets continue growing in large numbers. This has created exceptional demand for ubiquitous connectivity, high quality rich digital content and applications.

Consequently, 3G networks in many regions feel overburdened with operators seeking a pragmatic solution to offload this mobile data crunch. A substantial share of high-speed data service demand comes from WiFi enabled smartphones, making WiFi the preferred data-offloading technology for alleviating congested networks.

However, 3G/4G-WiFi offload requires tying up with WiFi Service Providers as well as addressing Authentication, Billing, Charging integration by the Operators.

And its odd to see the cycle of “offloading”. At one time, we see fixed networks encountered “loss of traffic” to mobile operators. But now, we are seeing the mobile operators are feeling that “congestion” in their network and offload them to WiFi or unlicensed band. But these WiFi networks still depend very much on the Fixed Networks to carry their Internet traffic.

Subscribers are not interested in the inherent benefits of offload, and so operators cannot simply advertise ‘offload.’ Subscribers will only look to change their mobile usage if it affects the coverage and experience they receive or the price they pay.

Therefore, to change users’ behavior, operators must appeal to :

  • Coverage enhancer for indoor since 50-66% of mobile usage occurs indoors in subscribers’ homes or offices. Thus, freeing up spectrum for outdoor users.
  • Experience by providing the right tools. Smart Wi-Fi device which enables voice and data. Example - solution form Kineto.
  • Costs by having cheaper calling and data services when making indoor calls since not everyone is plagued by the indoor coverage challenge.
in their efforts to encourage offload.

Operator ’s cannot afford to allow their network services to deteriorate under the pressures of increased data traffic, and offload offers a simple solution. There must clever marketing incentives to encourage subscribers to change their mobile usage patterns to relieve congestion and improve the quality of service.

Key Questions Remained:-
  1. How seamless it is to the end user?
  2. Is it secure?
  3. Can service providers monetize?
Thus, a good WiFi based offloading solution should support hotspots that work well with the mobile operator by ensuring:-

  1. Unified and easy authentication

  2. Seamless switching between WiFi and cellular networks

  3. Fee or charges integrated into their regular mobile billing.

Twitter: @mazlan_abbas



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