New research shows service differentiation to be the top driver for Wi-Fi – ahead of Wi-Fi data offloading – and that discovering new and innovative ways to monetize Wi-Fi is becoming a top priority for service providers.
This comes from Amdocs and research firm Analysys Mason, which have released the findings from a global survey that explores the current state of service provider Wi-Fi deployments and analyzes service-provider perspectives on the strategic importance of Wi-Fi control and monetization.
“Our research shows that while the service provider Wi-Fi market is still in its early stages, service providers are adopting a forward-looking attitude that goes beyond using regular Wi-Fi to offload congested 3G and 4G networks," said Chris Nicoll, principal analyst at Analysys Mason. “While offload is still a priority, it’s clear that service providers are looking to service provider Wi-Fi as a competitive differentiator, and there is strong interest in exploring new and innovative business models for Wi-Fi monetization."
Eighty-nine percent of all service providers surveyed (including fixed, mobile and cable) have either deployed, or plan to deploy or leverage, Wi-Fi networks. On average, respondents ranked Wi-Fi’s importance as 7+ out of 10. Forty percent cited service differentiation as the No. 1 driver for their Wi-Fi strategies, indicating that operators expect Wi-Fi to be more than a solution for simply offloading congested networks and are interested in using it to provide incremental value to their customers.
The top technical barrier to deploying Wi-Fi?: authentication issues. Providing a seamless subscriber experience between cellular and Wi-Fi networks was weighted strongly (average score: 8.1 out of 10) by service providers, which suggests that they view a high-quality customer experience across 3G/4G/Wi-Fi as a top priority; however, user authentication ranked highest among the top technical barriers to deploying Wi-Fi, highlighting the importance of flexible and secure authentication in achieving a seamless experience.
The survey revealed that, on average, Wi-Fi roaming – while still a relatively immature market – was ranked just eighth out of 10 in terms of strategic importance.
Fifty-seven percent of service providers who have deployed Wi-Fi claim they are monetizing their offerings, but the survey also found that many of them are looking for innovative models that go beyond directly charging customers (who typically equate Wi-Fi with free Internet access). And capturing key strategic locations for Wi-Fi hotpots before they are claimed by competitors is a key objective for many service providers. Even “build-only" service providers will need to partner to capture these key sites, the research revealed.
“Service providers are now focusing on service differentiation, customer experience and monetization in Wi-Fi," said Rebecca Prudhomme, Amdocs vice president for product and solutions marketing. “This underscores the importance of having secure, scalable authentication and authorization solutions in place for ensuring a seamless experience as customers move in and out of the Wi-Fi network. Furthermore, real-time policy control opens up new opportunities for Wi-Fi monetization by allowing service providers to offer a range of differentiated services over Wi-Fi, such as tiered services and premium quality of service."
Analysys Mason interviewed decision-makers at more than 30 service providers around the globe.
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