Cable operators and mobile network operators will place a big bet on “carrier-grade” WiFi networks in the coming years as “best-effort” WiFi networks become less and less profitable, Real Wireless and Rethink Technology Research found in a new study commissioned by Amdocs.
Among operators, carrier-grade WiFi hotspots will grow from 14% today to 72% of overall WiFi hotspots by 2018, the study predicted, noting that the trend will be in response to the need for improved capacity and quality for services such as video streaming (including authenticated TV Everywhere services), health monitoring, online gaming, IP voice applications, as well as a broader desire to carve out new revenue streams from their expanding wireless broadband networks.
The cable industry, which is rapidly deploying hotspots in and out of the customer home, has already started to place a heavy emphasis on carrier-grade WiFi. CableLabs, for example, is working with several standards groups on products and tools that will utilize standards and specifications that will help MSOs develop and manage carrier-grade WiFi networks. That effort will include a focus on providing a consistent user experience and network management practices. The study points out that MSOs believe carrier grade WiFi can improve their position when negotiating mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deals.