Subscribers today expect to be connected at all times. Whether you’re relaxing at home, eating lunch in a cafe, or even sitting in the car on a road trip with your family, it’s never been more important to be able to get online.
Worldwide, 46 percent of total mobile data traffic was offloaded onto the fixed network through Wi-Fi in 2014. By 2016, more traffic is expected to be offloaded from cellular networks onto Wi-Fi than what remains oncellular networks. Wi-Fi connectivity is increasingly common in new cars, Wi-Fi- only phones are now a reality, and this trend towards expecting an Internet connection anywhere, at any time, is likely to continue in the future.
What does this mean for you, as a broadband service provider? For starters, subscribers expect Wi-Fi hotspots to be everywhere. Last year, a study found there was one Wi-Fi hotspot for every 150 people, or one for every 11 people in the U.K. Right now, offering public Wi-Fi for a small fee in airports or other businesses is an opportunity to add revenue, but it’s worth noting that customers are increasingly expecting to access public Wi-Fi for free. The rise of initiatives like community Wi-Fi — where home routers are turned into public Wi-Fi hotspots to provide free Internet access to other subscribers to the network — mean that subscribers may be even less willing to pay for public Wi-Fi in the future.
So why bother offering Wi-Fi at all?
At the end of the day, customers expect it. As a broadband operator, you are in the position to offer public Wi-Fi hotspots as an additional service, rather than as a means to gain new revenue streams. Wi-Fi in places such as cafes, stadiums, or other high-traffic areas represent an opportunity to add value to your existing offerings, helping you remain competitive and reduce customer churn.
Delivering Wi-Fi in addition to your existing wireline service may mean exploring new protocols and solutions. For example, TR-069 is a protocol
that cable and wireline providers alike can use to extend public Wi-Fi services. This could involve setting up a second channel on a modem to provide roaming Wi-Fi without affecting the subscriber’s service.
You also have to be aware that subscribers don’t just expect you to provide a service — they also expect high quality of experience (QoE). As a service provider, you need to find ways to facilitate remote management and troubleshooting, or else face increased support calls.