Thursday, August 13, 2009

Article: Operators embracing WiFi

The wave of Wi-Fi grows higher and stronger: in an article in Fierce Broadband Wireless, Writer Lynette Luna describes the shift in Operator's approach to Wi-Fi. WeFi is mentioned in it too...

Here are a few key paragraphs:

It's no secret mobile operators are now embracing WiFi, but will they go so far as to actively encourage customers to roam onto WiFi?

Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless, sees big business in operators looking to WiFi hotspots as a way to offload the heavy 3G data traffic that is generated by flat-rate pricing and iconic devices such as the iPhone. Once the vendor was stonewalled when it requested meetings with carriers. Today, operators are calling Ruckus.

The key to encouraging 3G offloading, however, is enabling seamless roaming between WiFi and 3G. "A single sign-on is the thing to master," Lo said. "People want WiFi if it's easy to use. If they have to re-authenticate every time, it's a big pain."

U.S. operators besides AT&T have yet to enable devices to seek out a WiFi connection before a 3G connection. PCCW in Hong Kong, a Ruckus Wireless customer, deployed that capability two years ago when it began rolling out hotspots and other operators in Asia and Europe are aggressively adding that capability.

Should operators necessarily follow AT&T's lead and own hotspots? Lo said money can be made as a managed hotspot service provider in addition to the benefits of reducing network capex and aiding customer retention.

Already, companies like WeFi are coming up with app stores for use on WiFi only, while other companies like Bango are coming up with ways for operators to monetize apps via WiFi.

Since the iPhone sets the trends for the types of features we see in competing iPhones, it's only a matter of time until we see auto-authentication features on competing handsets outside of AT&T's network--both from a consumer demand standpoint and a 3G offloading one.

Read the full article here - recommended!

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