Guest post by Jean-François Gros, Marketing & Business Development Director, Gemalto
Among consumers, Wi-Fi is perhaps most commonly associated with the simple pleasures of a few minutes free surfing on the train or alongside a coffee. For mobile network operators, however, the stakes are rather higher. With pressure to build capacity and coverage combining with a fiercely competitive marketplace, the inexorable spread of Wi-Fi offers a compelling route to enhanced customer experience, differentiation, and new revenue streams.
Whilst much attention has focussed on the 4G roll-out, Wi-Fi’s contribution to the connectivity eco-system has largely flown under the radar. But the figures speak for themselves. It is widely reported that, by 2018, there will be one hotspot for every 20 people on the planet; by 2017, seven billion devices will be Wi-Fi enabled1.
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.