Carrier Wi-Fi investment driven by desire to improve customer experience

Wireless Broadband Alliance survey reveals that 70% of survey respondents said key motivation for deploying Carrier Wi-Fi is to improve customer experience; 41% also cited it as most important driver for NGH investment

Carrier Wi-Fi investment driven by desire to improve customer experience

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) annual survey reveals that 70% of respondents said a key motivation for deploying carrier-grade Wi-Fi in their systems would be to improve customer experience and therefore increase subscriber retention. In addition, 41% cited this as the single most important driver to invest in NGH, ahead of offload.

The WBA, the industry association focused on driving the next generation Wi-Fi experience, published its report today (2 December 2104) on the Wi-Fi hotspot market, compiled by global research company Maravedis-Rethink.

The survey also highlighted that there is an increasing shift in attitude towards Wi-Fi. The largest figure ever seen in this annual survey - 56.7% - said they were more confident about investing in public Wi-Fi (whether as operators or in offering products and carrier services), than they had been a year ago. In the 2013 study, the figure was just under 52%, and that, in turn, was up from 43% in 2012.

Faster build-outs expected
These higher levels of confidence will certainly translate into larger and faster build-outs with Wi-Fi being deployed in a broad range of venues, the WBA believes. Certain locations continue to dominate the Wi-Fi business due to the volume of traffic and criticality of services.

In both 2013 and 2014, large venues such as stadiums and shopping malls will be among the biggest drivers of traffic growth said over 50% of respondents, followed by travel hubs such as airports (cited by 48%) and connectivity on board transportation (41%).

“Carrier Wi-Fi has experienced a revolution over the past year and is now being embraced by an ever growing number of carriers. The significant progress in live commercial NGH deployments, and in turn new monetisation strategies, provide evidence of major improvements in quality of service, ease of use and revenue generation that the technology brings,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA.

“This research underlines the growing momentum behind Wi-Fi that is increasing year-on-year, driven by the ecosystem coming together to develop the technology and promote its wide ranging benefits.”

Caroline Gabriel, research director, Maravedis-Rethink, said: “What stands out from this year’s survey is a strong focus on the importance of overall customer experience rather than just speed and convenience, and it is cited numerous times as a key driver for the adoption of Wi-Fi. WBA initiatives such as global roaming and Next Generation Hotspot are still being recognised as key enablers of the technology.”

Wi-Fi roaming
The survey also found that Wi-Fi roaming will continue to be an important way to extend coverage, especially internationally. In the 2013 survey, 30% of the hotspot operators also had roaming deals to supplement their networks, while in 2014, that percentage has risen to just over half.

Among those surveyed, there was a total base of over 2.8 million directly owned and managed hotspots, and an average of 42,000 in a deployment. But when roaming was included, the carriers could provide a total of 8.85 million locations between them, or an average of 193,000 each.

Next Generation Hotspot
With regards to Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) deployments, last year, 44% expected to have deployed by the end of 2015. By the end of 2016, a further 31% of those with active plans for NGH expect to have deployed. That would indicate uptake of 84% by that stage among those players which are already making their plans to deploy.

This revelation comes at a time when significant advances have been made in NGH deployments which now include 12 live commercial deployments worldwide.

Now NGH is a commercial reality, monetisation is rising to the top of the agenda and the most dramatic change from last year is that 35% of respondents are implementing Wi-Fi roaming as one of their monetisation strategies – charging for roaming access, or providing tools and platforms to enable this. That is up sharply from just 10% in 2013.

About the survey
The survey carried out during Q3 2014, had a total of 210 respondents: 45% of those being operators. Other significant respondent groups were Wi-Fi equipment and device vendors, with 25% and consultants/integrators, on 19%.

The majority of the responses came from North America (39%) and Europe (26%), followed by Asia-Pacific (19%). The full report is now available to download here –


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