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Wi-Fi: A Major “Hotspot” for Service Providers

By Tony Verspecht and Luiz Lima, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG)

Growth in mobile network traffic is staggering: Driven by the onslaught of devices that are now connected to the Internet, mobile data traffic is expected to grow three times faster than fixed IP traffic, exceeding 6 exabytes per month by 2015, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index. This presents service providers (SPs) with a tremendous opportunity to invest in Wi-Fi services to create carrier-class Wi-Fi experience and increase revenues.

While specialized providers have operated commercial Wi-Fi hotspots for nearly two decades, most SPs see Wi-Fi as a fairly new business. To understand the implications of Wi-Fi on SP operations, Cisco® IBSG interviewed a number of SP executives. Following are some of the key insights, which are further discussed in “Wi-Fi for Service Providers: Challenges and Opportunities for Carrier-Class Operations”:

  • Basic Wi-Fi service coverage expansion is still the main driver—Even among established Wi-Fi SPs with a large number of hotspots, the average yearly increase in access points is 14 percent.
  • Value-added Wi-Fi services Read More »

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Maple Leaf Wi-Fi

I recently returned from meeting with the majority of Canada’s service providers to share the results of our recent Cisco IBSG research, “What Canadians Want from Wi-Fi and Mobile.” Wi-Fi is everywhere in Canada, as exemplified by the photo that I took at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Our study confirms this, as Canadians seem to be content with coverage in first-tier locations such as coffee shops, hotels, and restaurants, but are now looking for Wi-Fi to be just as pervasive in other places where they spend their lives. Parks, bus stops, retail stores, shopping malls, and hospitals top the list of additional locations where Canadians would like to be able to access Wi-Fi.

The study revealed that mobile devices are now Wi-Fi-enabled “nomadic” devices. Canadians own an average of 2.4 mobile devices, almost all of which are Wi-Fi-enabled.  Canadians spend an average of 2.8 hours per day using their mobile devices in their homes, compared to only 0.5 hours per day in a typical “mobile” on-the-go world.

The Cisco IBSG study also revealed that mobile users are connecting their devices predominantly via Wi-Fi, including 75 percent of smartphone owners. In fact, on average, smartphone users use Wi-Fi one-third of the time to Read More »

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What We Can Learn from South Korea

I recently returned from Seoul, South Korea, where I gave the keynote address at the 2012 KISDI International Conference. My talk, “The Next Generation of the Internet—Revolutionizing the Way We Work, Live, Play, and Learn,” focused on the key trends shaping the next generation of the Internet and the implications for players in the ITC industry and government policy/regulation. However, based on what I observed in Seoul, much of the future has already arrived in South Korea.

Besides the ultra-modern skyscrapers of Seoul, South Korea has the highest domestic penetration rate of Read More »

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5 Predictions for the Future of Wi-Fi and Mobile

Wi-Fi has truly come of age as a viable means to connect mobile devices to the Internet. The past four blogs in this series have highlighted some of the key findings of a recent survey of U.S. mobile users by Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG). Our survey uncovered some startling revelations about what consumers are doing on their mobile devices, how and where they are using them, and how they are connecting them to the Internet.

The majority of devices are now Wi-Fi-enabled, and the fastest-growing category is “nomadic” devices such as tablets and eReaders. We now need to speak of the “mobile home,” as the home is by far the most popular location for consumers to use their mobile devices. Surprisingly, Wi-Fi is the network connection of choice for most consumers for all of their devices, but they would like to see Wi-Fi more seamlessly integrated with mobile networks. When they are not at home, mobile users are increasingly expecting public hotspots to provide Wi-Fi connectivity to these devices. While service providers are beginning to realize that they need to deploy Wi-Fi networks, our research clearly shows that there are viable monetization opportunities in mobile data off-load, customer retention, and new and innovative business models.

While it is never easy to foresee the future, here are five predictions for key changes in the mobile industry over the next two years as an outcome of the Cisco IBSG research: Read More »

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There’s Money in Wi-Fi

The insatiable demand for smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices is generating staggering amounts of mobile data. As my previous blogs discussed, the use of Wi-Fi for Internet access is exploding as more mobile devices are Wi-Fi-enabled, the number of public hotspots expands, and user acceptance grows. Service providers (SPs) now realize Wi-Fi must be an important part of their strategy to manage growing data loads on their networks and meet increased customer expectations. While operators are learning to accept the role of Wi-Fi, they still struggle with ways to turn a “cost of doing business” into profitable business models. The Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) has consulted with leading SPs from around the world about new, innovative Wi-Fi business models that can provide a reasonable return on investment (ROI), as outlined in our paper, “Profiting From the Rise of Wi-Fi.”

To learn more about what consumers are doing with their mobile devices, and to test their response to the new Wi-Fi business models, Cisco IBSG recently conducted a survey of U.S. mobile users. Following are our top three findings related to monetization of Wi-Fi: Read More »

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