I recently had the honor to speak at the Wi-Fi Global Congress in San Francisco. One thing is certain: Wi-Fi’s importance and industry relevance continues. While not quite the same order of magnitude as the Mobile World Congress, the event attracted 350 people, a tenfold increase since the last time the Wi-Fi Broadband Alliance (WBA) visited San Francisco. The WBA now has 95 corporate members, reflecting a member base that has doubled over the last 12 months. The membership includes a mix of leading Wi-Fi, mobile, and broadband network operators; global service providers and media players; as well as technology providers and partners.
Stuart Taylor (middle) shares his insights during the Developing and Monetizing Your Network Through Partnerships panel.
I took away five key messages from the conference: Read More »
The rise of new Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices and the growing ubiquity of Wi-Fi access points in most countries has been astounding. Recent mobile consumer research by the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) clearly demonstrates that most mobile devices are now Wi-Fi-enabled, and that approximately 70 to 80 percent of the time that consumers use these devices, they are potentially within range of a Wi-Fi access point. In fact, the research shows that one-third of the time, smartphone users are choosing Wi-Fi—rather than their mobile cellular network—to connect to the Internet. We expect that within the next two years, the number of Wi-Fi connections will reach parity with mobile cellular network connections. Wi-Fi has truly become a part of the mobile equation as consumers increasingly look to it to connect to rich mobile media experiences and to power their new, essential nomadic devices, such as tablets and eReaders.
While Wi-Fi is truly becoming a viable and essential complement to mobile, the user experience is certainly not without its challenges. Who hasn’t experienced the frustration of having to log on to a splash page and enter a complex passcode to gain Wi-Fi access at a public hotspot. And you have to repeat this complicated process every time you return for your morning cappuccino. The Cisco IBSG research clearly demonstrates that people also want seamless integration among Wi-Fi hotspots, and increasingly between mobile cellular and Wi-Fi networks.
The recent launch of the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint program by the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) offers to make this integration a reality. This industrywide, interoperable platform, supported across a range of networks and devices, will revolutionize the Wi-Fi user experience and become a key enabler of seamless data offload from mobile networks to public hotspots.
Here are the key Passpoint features planned for mid-2012: Read More »
A few days before Mobile World Congress, the world’s elite Formula 1 teams tested their cars and skills at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. F-1 racing is a thrilling blend of courage, precision, technology, and teamwork: the same things service providers use to compete in the race to deploy seamless, profitable mobility services.
This year was my first time at Mobile World Congress, and I got a rush from it as if I were driving an F-1. Cisco CEO John Chambers set the pace for the event, saying, “We are now entering the post-macrocell era, where small cells also will play a critical role in delivering the next generation mobile Internet.”
As part of this shift, Cisco extends its M.O.VE reference architecture for service provider mobility with two major announcements at the show. We announced the industry’s first standards-based small cell solution, providing coverage and capacity solutions built off Wi-Fi and Femto technologies. Read More »
The research shows that almost half (47%) of mobile operators now think Wi-Fi is either very important or essential to their customers’ experience. The research also found that operators are planning a massive increase in Wi-Fi hotspot deployments – hotspots are set to rocket with a 350% increase by 2015.
The report confirms the Cisco VNI numbers, showing that mobile data is continuing its massive growth across the globe. The WBA Public Wi-Fi report predicts that mobile data traffic will hit 16.84 million terabytes by 2014. Operators are increasingly turning to Wi-Fi as a trusted extension to both fixed and mobile networks for offering their customers a seamless Internet experience.
The occasion was the launch of the Next Generation Hotspot trials. These trials will set the stage for the future of Wi-Fi, establishing it as a robust, secure technology that will augment and complement 3G and 4G networks for years to come.
Next Generation Hotspot is based on the concept that Wi-Fi networks should be as safe and easy to access as cellular networks. Some of the base specifications for network discovery (IEEE 802.11u), authentication (IEEE 802.1x), and security (IEEE 802.11i) were well underway. The cellular example of using SIM cards for user identification and using roaming hubs for inter-carrier negotiation and billing were then applied and the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) specification for Hotspot 2.0 was a result.
The trials also represent a historic cooperation between the WBA, WFA, and GSMA. The WFA will hold a series of test events that will allow vendors to test and certify against the specification, and the WBA will carry out the trials in operator networks. Twenty-seven operators, vendors and roaming hubs have signed up for the trials. The trial results will be provided to the GSMA for harmonization with 3GPP standards.