In today’s highly-developed and ultra-competitive telecommunications markets, there is a widespread expectation among consumers that they should be able to access Wi-Fi for free wherever they are – from cafes and bars to airports, shopping centres, sports venues and public transport. In this era of ‘free’ Wi-Fi, how can service providers finance Wi-Fi deployments? Here are my thoughts:

Offer Wi-Fi with a difference

Traditionally, you’ve been able to profit by charging venue owners, stadiums and hotel chains for the Wi-Fi that is deployed in their premises. Still today, if you’re the first to cover a specific area with Wi-Fi then you ‘own the land’ for the foreseeable future. But now with current Wi-Fi solutions available, you can also offer additional services that will provide such customers with a great deal of added value.

Let your customers harness usage data

Data is a precious commodity, and this is as true for Service Provider Wi-Fi (aka Carrier Wi-Fi) as for anything else. You can differentiate your offering by enabling the Wi-Fi buyer to access presence and location data and use data analytics to learn how consumers are using the network. This can come in the form of regular, fully ‘anonymized’ reports that give the customer a better understanding of what is going on in their premises.

Facilitate more informed decisions

Insights from data analytics can show how users flow through an environment, where they spend their time, and where they come from and go to. Retailers and venue owners can use this invaluable information to determine their marketing campaigns and digital signage, for instance pricing high traffic areas over low traffic.

Adopting this approach using Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences, Copenhagen Airport can track people flows and improve the overall passenger experience.

Help their branding connect with consumers

Another way to differentiate your Wi-Fi offering is to help your customers put their mark on the service they provide to users in their premises. Now they can broadcast their own branded SSID to users, so they can immediately create a greater connection between their own brand and their customers. And they can also tie that SSID to their own branded mobile app that delivers loyalty incentives, rewards, offers, content and information to their customers’ smartphones.

A particular successful example is with stadium partnerships developed to enhance the fan experience. Cisco’s StadiumVision Mobile, which delivers up to four channels of live unique video content, also offers opportunities for targeted advertising, sponsorship activations, promotions, branding and more.

Take to new locations

There are places that people just don’t expect to get Wi-Fi – so with a creative approach, you can engage them in new and effective ways. For example Maxima Telecom partnered with Moscow Metro to deliver Wi-Fi throughout the entire network – including tunnels. This technical innovation, combined with a login portal that upsells additional content services, drives a highly effective customer acquisition strategy.

Events create similar opportunities on a smaller scale. For example Telstra in Australia achieved a significant profile boost when they installed Wi-Fi in Sydney Harbour for the arrival of the Extreme Sailing Series.

Just provide a better Wi-Fi service

As well as data and personalisation-based innovations, there is a lot to be said for just offering Wi-Fi Connecting is getting easier and becoming more and more transparent for users. There is more space granularity and a better service with more throughput, less sensitivity to environmental turbulence and the possibility to closely align the service levels with your 3G/LTE offering. That too will differentiate your service from competitors.

In Malta, Melita decided to upgrade to a ‘Connected Island’ – fast Wi-Fi wherever you are. It’s fully integrated with their mobile network to deliver overall better connectivity that sets them apart.

If your offering includes voice services, you also need a Wi-Fi network that you can trust to deliver an experience that meets expectations. And if you’re a cable operator, Wi-Fi may be your only way to stay in touch with customers while they are on the go. In that case, the argument for providing a high-performance, easy-to-use Wi-Fi service couldn’t be stronger.

Watch Video interview from Cisco Expert in Wi-Fi here:

Get more details about what Cisco can do for mobile network operators here.


Bernard Lamy

Senior Business Development Manager

GSP Mobility EMEAR