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Integrating Wi-Fi into Today’s Mobile Networks

By Peter Gaspar, Consulting Systems Engineer, Service Provider Mobility, Emerging Theater

It’s not new news that when it comes to network access, Wi-Fi technology is a cost-effective complement to macro radio access. Industry blogs continuously feature analysis about the economic advantages of using Wi-Fi as a small cell technology. No surprise, then, that many mobile operators have completed or are working seriously on plans to integrate this technology into their mobile ecosystems.

But when it comes to details, things start to get confusing. Terms like policy and charging, lawful intercept, mobility and SIM authentication start to pop up. The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has incorporated Wi-Fi (non-3GPP IP Access) as part of the LTE architecture, created the terminology and studied the integration, but it has left us without guidance for 3G, not to speak of 2G, networks.

However,  given the attractiveness of Wi-Fi as a radio access type, many mobile operators have created their own solutions to the issues arising from integration. In an attempt to structure and summarize these approaches, I have written a whitepaper that explains how mobile operators can provide the very same, or similar, services—including charging and policy—for mobile subscribers, regardless of the access network type.

Check out the whitepaper (see below), “Architecture for Mobile Data Offload over Wi-Fi Access Networks” for more on authentication, policy and charging, mobility and LTE integration for Wi-Fi based access. And let me know what you think by posting a comment below.

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