Intelligently Using Wi-Fi to Compliment Cellular and Deliver Customer Quality of Experience
The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) is on in Las Vegas this week. This is normally the event where the latest and greatest devices make the news, with IoT, wearables and digital life services being at the forefront this year. However, as with many trade exhibitions, in between all the new product announcements, there is always one underlying current of frustration from those on the exhibition floor – this time it is the performance of Wi-Fi. Light Reading, reporting on CES said “Wi-Fi is a blessing and a curse at CES. While heavily in demand on the exhibit floor, delivery is often spotty. Faster, smarter Wi-Fi solutions…..can’t come fast enough.”
While the hopes of CES attendees are for faster and more reliable Wi-Fi, for most people who don’t have to endure the joys of telecoms and digital services trade shows the desire of quicker, easier to use and more consistent Wi-Fi is also there. At home it usually works well enough, but out and about it can sometimes be a bit slow and cumbersome with annoying sign in processes. This represents an opportunity for mobile operators, many of whom are starting to embrace Wi-Fi. Networks that can harness cheaper, more available network spectrum to cost effectively handle the increasing volumes of data traffic that consumers are generating will always be of interest. The increase in roll-out of carrier Wi-Fi and the growth of operator interest in public Wi-Fi underlines the commitment to Wi-Fi as a complementary and cost-effective way to carry mobile traffic.
Operators have an opportunity to make Wi-Fi a lower cost extension of their cellular networks by delivering a consistent quality of experience. Most people don’t know or don’t care what mobile network technology they are using. As long as things are working as expected and customers are getting the service they’ve been told they’ll get most people don’t really care (or aren’t aware) if it’s 3G, LTE or Wi-Fi. Delivering consistent quality of experience over different networks involves intelligent routing traffic from cellular to Wi-Fi using Network Selection Intelligence.
This is done using Access Network Detection and Selection Function (ANDSF), interaction gateway and policy management systems. Operators can define policies that enable devices to automatically connect and authenticate to Wi-Fi access points. From the user’s perspective this is a completely seamless and transparent experience. The operator can centrally manage policies which give a great deal of control over which Wi-Fi networks will be selected and under what conditions. These network selection decisions can be based on multiple inputs including customer profile, historical data consumption, tariff plan, device type, time-of day, location information and a wealth of other network information. ANDSF enables operators’ policies to be installed on users’ devices and also to change them dynamically as conditions change.
With Network Selection Intelligence mobile customers will be able take a device to the local shopping mall or to another country and it should be able to intelligently find and connect to the best available network, and find and connect to a better network when conditions change. What the customer wants is consistency and continuity. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Las Vegas in a high rollers’ casino or a drab train station in Dublin on a rainy Monday – if Wi-Fi doesn’t deliver the expected performance then it’s not much good, and no operator would risk their reputation on delivering poor quality connectivity over Wi-Fi when the customer is expecting their normal cellular performance.
Click here to download Openet’s latest guidebook: Wi-Fi: Ensuring Quality of Experience.