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The Next Generation of Wi-Fi Debuts in Beijing

I recently had the honor to speak at the Wi-Fi Global Congress in Beijing. As evident by the more than 400 people in attendance, the importance and relevance of Wi-Fi continues to grow.  The Wireless Broadband Alliance now has over 100 members, a doubling in less than 2 years.  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.

I took away six key messages from this exciting conference:

  1. Next Generation Hotspots is Alive and Well.  One of the most exciting things at the conference was the launch of the live NGH Experience with China Mobile as the host operator and Cisco as the network infrastructure provider.  Attendees with a Samsung Galaxy or iPhone 5 could experience the first ever opportunity to seamlessly and automatically connect to the venue Wi-Fi.  Participants also received valuable conference information and services seamlessly delivered to their mobile device through NGH.  This is just the beginning.  With 15 major carriers (and growing) signed up to deploy NGH, mobile users throughout the world will be able to experience the next generation of Wi-Fi early in 2014.
  2.  Wi-Fi Roaming is Becoming a Reality.  Several speakers described roaming as being where cellular roaming was 15 to 20 years ago.  However, with the successful launch and upcoming deployment of NGH, seamless roaming amongst carriers is now becoming a reality.  Indeed, the GSM Association recently approved a Wi-Fi Roaming Annex that will make it easy for mobile operators to support this.  As such, the WBA expects roaming to be fully automated across more than 80% of public Wi-Fi networks by 2018.
  3.  Wi-Fi is an Important Part of the Mobile Network.  The world’s largest mobile operator, Read More »

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Understanding the Changing Mobile User

The mobile market continues to evolve at a blindingly fast pace. It seems that new faster, sleeker, and more powerful mobile devices are launched every day, with new device categories created almost overnight. The number of available applications to run on these revolutionary new devices is staggering, numbering in the millions. Now you can do everything, from banking and controlling your home thermostat to shopping, entertainment, and printing a boarding pass, all from the palm of your hand. In addition, we now have faster ways to connect these devices to the Internet using 4G/LTE or Wi-Fi technologies.

While service providers are clearly benefiting from the rise of mobility and all the innovations in devices applications they are constantly trying to understand how consumers are using mobility and where the mobile market is heading. To continue to derive business value from mobility, service providers need to better understand mobility from the users’ perspective and translate what they discover into new sources of business value.

To learn more, Cisco conducted a survey of 620 U.S. mobile users to understand their needs and behaviors, use of devices, applications and mobile access technologies, and how they have changed since our 2012 mobile consumer survey.

The study revealed Read More »

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The Wi-Fi World Comes to San Francisco

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 »

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Passpoint Delivers a New Level of Wi-Fi Usability

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 »

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Revving for the Mobility Race

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 »

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