Wireless operators have their hands full with concerns over the rapid growth of mobile broadband traffic, so many are beginning to look beyond the negative revenue implications of Wi-Fi.
That's one finding in new research from Ovum, which says even though Wi-Fi offload is now being included in the majority of infrastructure strategy plans, today's carrier-grade solutions do not fully meet operators' needs.
This news comes from Ovum's new operator survey on Wi-Fi offloading that indicates many operators are still looking for features not currently available on a large scale. More than half expect session continuity when moving between Wi-Fi and cellular networks, while more than 90 percent are also looking for a device-based policy solution that would select the best network (3G/4G/Wi-Fi) based on cost, performance, and other policy-driven features.
“Just a few years ago, if one was to ask mobile operators about Wi-Fi, their responses would most likely have been negative, but this has long changed with rising concerns around how to manage the growth of mobile broadband," said Daryl Schoolar, principal analyst in Ovum’s network infrastructure telecoms team. “Now the issue is how best to build up sufficient network resources to manage Wi-Fi offload."
The majority of operators surveyed expect to work with other hotspot providers to build out their network footprint. And they are willing to work with what they call "untrusted" or "non-controlled" Wi-Fi networks – for example, free public networks that aren't controlled by an operator, such as those found at hotels or libraries. Less than half said their companies were taking any measure to evaluate application performance before allowing those applications to access their networks.