Sherry Zameer, Telecommunication Solutions for Middle East & Africa at Gemalto

Sherry Zameer, Telecommunication Solutions for Middle East & Africa at Gemalto

Most of us have been in a position where we rely on a mobile internet connection to perform our daily tasks, like accessing maps on the way to a meeting, or checking information updated in real-time, be that via text updates or rich image/video sharing. One thing we know for certain is that the insatiable demand for smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices is generating staggering amounts of mobile data.

As this Cisco report suggests, until recently, most mobile industry executives viewed Wi-Fi as the ‘poor cousin’ to licensed mobile communications. Most mobile operators now realise that offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi can, and must, play a significant role in helping them avoid clogged networks and unhappy customers. Shoppers, for example, are coming to expect Wi-Fi in stores. In a recent survey by SapientNitro and GfK Roper, 63 per cent of respondents said free Wi-Fi would enhance their shopping experience.

Daily usage of mobile devices is high, although they are not always connected to the Internet. Over half of mobile device users visit social networks and use apps daily, and half of those users perform these activities at least several times in the day. The top reason for choosing Wi-Fi, conversely, is that respondents find it much faster than mobile networks. This leaves a huge opportunity for mobile operators to take advantage of Wi-Fi to automatically manage networks across different technologies (3G/4G/Wi-Fi).

Research suggests that some service providers (SPs) are struggling to understand new business models for making money from Wi-Fi. SPs are beginning to evaluate Wi-Fi business models that provide advantages beyond offloading and retention. Notably, Cisco IBSG tested five business models with the following results:

Model 1: Accepting general advertising for free Wi-Fi access

  • Average interest of 2.9 out of 5

Model 2: Accepting personalised marketing for free Wi-Fi access

  • Average interest of 2.8 out of 5

Model 3: Secure Wi-Fi access to remotely stored content in a digital locker

  • Average interest of 3.1 out of 5

Model 4: National/international Wi-Fi roaming

  • Average interest of 3.3 out of 5

Model 5: Enhanced in-store shopping experience (e.g., product information, mapping, coupons)

  • Average interest of 3.1 out of 5

Gemalto’s Advanced Wi-Fi Services help MNOs securely tackle network saturation and provide the best network to complement 4G deployments. As a result, they can answer the demand of increasing data usage with lower distribution costs per GB compared to traditional networks. With Gemalto, MNOs can apply business rules such as time, location, bandwidth, and network coverage to implement the most suitable network switch, meaning subscribers are offloaded seamlessly to Wi-Fi networks to ensure the highest quality of service at all times.

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