WiFi as a separate overlay network currently leads the list of technologies and architectures for offloading data traffic; meanwhile, more sophisticated carrier WiFi architectures gain gradual traction as respondents look to bring WiFi into the mobile RAN via SIM-based service models or by deploying dual-mode WiFi/small cells, according to a new survey from Infonetics.
“Carrier WiFi deployments are evolving to deliver the same quality of experience as mobile and fixed-line broadband service environments, and this is driving WiFi networks to become more closely integrated. Hotspot 2.0, a key tool developed by the industry to aid this drive, shows rapid adoption by carriers participating in our latest carrier WiFi survey,” notes Richard Webb, directing analyst for mobile backhaul and small cells at Infonetics Research.
Webb adds: “Operators are betting pretty big on carrier WiFi, but they’re also keen to develop ways of monetizing services so that WiFi starts to pay for itself over the coming years. WiFi roaming and location-based services are examples of customer plans that are growing fast.”
Some additional highlights:
- Respondents have an average of around 32,000 access points currently, growing to just over 44,000 by 2015, representing 33% growth over the next year
- 40% of Infonetics’ operator respondents expect to integrate Hotspot 2.0 into more than half their access points by the end of 2015
- Among those surveyed, the top 3 monetization models for WiFi services are pre-pay, bundled with mobile broadband subscription, and tiered hotspots
- Respondents perceive Cisco and Ruckus Wireless as the top carrier WiFi manufacturers for second consecutive year.