US-based Wi-Fi provider Aruba Networks announced at MWC 2013 that NTT BroadbandPlatform, a subsidiary of Japanese mobile operator NTT Docomo, has selected Aruba’s WLAN solution as the infrastructure for its new ‘Wi-Fi Cloud Service’.
NTT BroadbandPlatform specialises in wireless LAN (WLAN) and other wireless broadband businesses and the new Wi-Fi Cloud Service will power Seven Spots, one of the largest Wi-Fi services in Japan provided by a retail company.
The recent explosion in smart phones and tablets and the increasing amount of information contained on and shared by such devices is causing a huge surge in the amount of traffic on 3G and LTE lines. Service providers are therefore looking to Wi-Fi platforms like those from Aruba to help offload some of this traffic and improve the overall network environment.
In addition, service providers, retailers and other organizations can use these Wi-Fi platforms to deliver finely-tuned content such as targeted advertisements and special programming in locations like coffee houses, retail outlets and restaurants.
Harnessing unlicensed spectrum for targeted content delivery
The new Wi-Fi Cloud Service uses the unlicensed 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges to enable ‘carrier-free’ or carrier-agnostic high-speed communication. This means that end users can access the service irrespective of their wireless carrier. With the Wi-Fi Cloud Service, retail businesses, facilities such as hospitals, travel hubs such as train stations and airports, and even cities are able to provide their customers and visitors with free Internet service, an area portal and targeted content delivery.
NTTBP selected Aruba for its Wi-Fi Cloud Service because the Aruba WLAN solution combines high-performance access points (APs) with a mobility controller capable of unifying the management of wired and wireless access networks. Aruba’s context-aware architecture allows highly granular access policy management based on user, device, application or location.
This capability, combined with the ability to monitor mobile users and devices, is what enables retailers and other organizations to deliver profitable, value-added services such as custom advertising and exclusive content in their facilities. Also of interest was Aruba’s ability to greatly simplify the deployment of very large scale distributed networks while delivering high reliability, security and performance, and an optimized RF environment, the company said.
The Seven Spots service
NTTBP’s Wi-Fi Cloud Service powers Seven Spots, a free Wi-Fi service by Seven & i Group. Seven and i Group runs convenience stores, supermarkets and restaurants in 16 countries and regions worldwide. The Seven Spots service offers free high-speed Internet service as well as exclusive content and special services at over 10,000 Seven-Eleven Japan, Ito-Yokado, Sogo & Seibu and Denny’s locations throughout Japan.
Because Seven Spots is a carrier-agnostic service, customers that have contracts with mobile carriers other than NTT, such as Softbank and KDDI, and visitors from other countries, can register with Seven Spot and enjoy the service on any on Wi-Fi device, including smartphones, tablets and the Nintendo-DS gaming device.
The Wi-Fi Cloud Service can be used for docomo Wi-Fi provided by NTT Docomo and Flet’s Spot provided by Nippon Telelgraph and Telephone East Ccorporation.
Wi-Fi as the ‘third access’
‘A recent summary of NTT Group’s business plans for the next few years details how Wi-Fi platforms will be strengthened as the ‘third access’ after fixed and mobile access,’ said NTTBP president Tadao Kobayashi. ‘We already have a plan to increase the number of base stations that function as Wi-Fi spots to 120,000 by March 2013, and we expect the Wi-Fi platform to further expand. Wi-Fi Cloud Service offers Internet service and leads to new businesses such as content delivery platforms, e-book distribution and the provision of collected marketing information.’
‘With overseas deployment of Wi-Fi Cloud Service as well as applications in business, we will continue offering highly convenient network environments generated by connecting hotspots with the traffic lines of our daily life,’ continued Kobayashi. ‘Aruba’s wireless infrastructure was the only solution we evaluated that met the exacting requirements of this innovative new service offering. Their robust, reliable and easy to manage WLAN solutions meet our needs as well as those of our managed services customers.’
‘The Seven Spot deployment is an excellent illustration of how NTT and Aruba make the Wi-Fi offering easy, cost-effective and valuable for retailers like Seven and i,’ said Dominic Orr, CEO of Aruba Networks. ‘NTTBP installs the Aruba APs and controllers and then conducts all the ongoing management and troubleshooting of the equipment, while Aruba’s advanced WLAN technology enables retailers and other organizations to offer high quality Internet access and value-added content that draws customers into their locations.’