wireless broadband allianceLooking to foster uptake among the world’s mobile and fixed telecom service providers, the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and Senza Fili on September 13 announced results from the WBA’s Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) business model report.

Wi-Fi has effectively served as a proverbial “silver bullet” for mobile service providers, which have been facing surging demand for bandwidth from the proliferation of data-hungry smartphones and tablets, the WBA notes in a press release. But there’s a pressing need “to move beyond legacy hotspot Wi-Fi and upgrade to NGH,” WBA says.

NGHs offer secure authentication and automatic service discovery and selection. They will soon be equipped with online sign-up and policy support, which “will ultimately give users easier access to a far greater number of public Wi-Fi access points around the world, without the need for usernames and passwords,” WBA explains.

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Key takeaways from the WBA research include:

  • A higher proportion of data traffic carried by NGH Wi-Fi leads to lower per-bit costs. Mobile operators can reduce their per-bit RAN costs by 18% when they carry 20% of their traffic through NGH Wi-Fi
  • The combination of Wi-Fi and cellular small cells brings additional cost savings and higher profitability. The per-bit cost in a network with NGH Wi-Fi and 4G small cells may be 38% of those of a 3G macro network
  • The ability of NGH Wi-Fi to drive more traffic than legacy Wi-Fi from the same infrastructure results in lower per-bit costs for NGH Wi-Fi in comparison with legacy Wi-Fi. If the traffic in a legacy network is 25% of that in an NGH Wi-Fi network, the overall per-bit costs will grow by 18%
  • Based on the potential cost savings and operator commitments,  NGH Wi-Fi is forecast to account for 9% of global mobile traffic and $150 billion USD in operator revenue by 2018

“The technology behind NGH has been proven both in the lab and in the field. This report presents the critical piece of the puzzle for operators, demonstrating the strong business case for deploying the technology,” WBA CEO Shrikant Shenwai was quoted as saying.

“This new generation of Wi-Fi infrastructure will not only deliver a completely seamless and ubiquitous Wi-Fi experience to the end user, but will also become a key component of an operator’s RAN and network optimization strategy, particularly when integrating Wi-Fi with LTE and small cells. With the knowledge that NGH is not only cost effective but can also boost profits as well as significantly improve customer experience, we expect it to be increasingly integrated by carriers throughout 2013 and beyond.”

Added Senza Fili president and founder Monica Paolini, “Fixed and mobile operators need to evaluate the business benefits of deploying NGH Wi-Fi and assess how they best complement their fixed and cellular networks as they plan their Wi-Fi networks.

“Our analysis presents a new perspective on the financial implications of the coexistence of these technologies. The converging efforts of organizations such as the WBA, GSMA and Wi-Fi Alliance bring new functionality and improved performance to Wi-Fi, leading operators to treat it as one of their core RAN technologies, integrating it alongside existing 3G and 4G networks.”

WBA recently announced the first live NGH trial, which is slated to occur during its Wi-Fi Global Congress (WGC) in Beijing November 18-21. Partnering with China Mobile and Cisco, WBA will demonstrate the “first ever live deployment of its kind at an international conference,” where “a number of Passpoint-ready devices will be made available to demonstrate and provide a full ‘end-to-end,’ real-life NGH experience for end users.”

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