Posts Tagged ‘MNOs’

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Voice over Wi-Fi and the Implications for MNOs

September 24, 2014

As Apple unveils the iPhone 6 featuring Wi-Fi calling and texting and T-Mobile US immediately puts it into practice, changes are on the horizon for MNOs. A recent analysis of data traffic in the US has shown that over 50% of mobile communications are now carried over a Wi-Fi connection, whilst the rest travel over a cellular network. Whereas indoor Wi-Fi networks were once predominantly confined to homes and offices, they are today becoming increasingly commonplace in public spaces such as retail centres, transport networks and even city centres.

As we go about our day-to-day lives currently, we switch between Wi-Fi and cellular networks when we move from one location to another – perhaps meaning that we are out of Wi-Fi coverage for fewer than 30 minutes a day. If voice over Wi-Fi becomes mainstream, it poses the question of whether many users would want to incur the cost of mobile subscription when they will be able to make calls in numerous Wi-Fi hotspots.

The increased use of indoor Wi-Fi networks has reduced the attraction for MNOs to roll out radio networks in buildings, and seems to have already killed the unborn market of picocells for home coverage. Most of the Wi-Fi -covered venues also have a cellular infrastructure to assure the transport of legacy voice and SMS traffic. With the development of Wi-Fi infrastructure using the latest 802.11 ac wireless networking standard and delivering up to 433 Mbits, mobile operators are now postponing their decision to roll out small LTE cells in the same venues and are increasingly thinking of offloading the cellular traffic to the Wi-Fi network.

This decision by operators not to invest in indoor LTE infrastructure might then prove unwise. A shift to Wi-Fi as a means of carrying data traffic could well result in revenue loss, and may force them to make drastic changes to their business models which are, in essence, made up of investments in a network that is then sold in pieces to subscribers. If this model is to be challenged and potentially overtaken by the introduction of a wide range of mobile communication services over Wi-Fi, MNOs will need to take steps in order to protect their position.

By Philippe Berard, Consultant at Coleago Consulting