WiFi is central to the business models of many types of service provider, through mobile data offload or WiFi-first plans, for instance. But while these meet some limited commercial objectives, mainly in cost reduction, there are far greater opportunities if WiFi and cellular networks become more integrated, with fully seamless movement between them. Hetnet
When users can move smoothly between networks, so that they are always on the best available connection, the operator has taken a big step to the true HetNet (heterogeneous network).
Two-thirds of operators believe they must achieve this by 2017 in order to:
– Reduce monthly churn by improving customer experience
– Support new revenue streams which rely on high QoS levels such as video everywhere
– Support improved monetization via customer and network analytics
While these commercial drivers are clear, the technology is not yet adequate to support them all. Even with improvements to standards, they cannot guarantee flawless continuity of experience. That consistent, high quality of experience is identified, in an operator survey conducted by Rethink Technology Research in March 2015, as the most important factor which will allow the HetNet to achieve return on investment.
Seamless integration, and an intelligent connectivity layer tied into analytics and policy engines, will not only help the HetNet to deliver business-critical KPIs like churn reduction and ARPU increase, but will be flexible enough to provide the capabilities to support future developments such as the Internet of Things, and eventually ‘5G’.
Scope of the report
In the first quarter of 2015, Rethink Technology Research conducted a survey of over 45 senior executives within communications service providers (CSPs), in partnership with Birdstep Technology. The survey involved a cross-section across mobile, wireline broadband, pureplay WiFi and converged network operators. The objective was to acquire an in-depth insight into operators’ plans to deploy carrier-grade WiFi, particularly as part of a HetNet (heterogeneous network) strategy which would rely on integration of WiFi and cellular connectivity.
The results of this targeted study are presented, in this paper, in conjunction with some of the latest results from Rethink’s quarterly survey of the five-year network deployment plans of over 100 service providers worldwide. Together, they provide a picture of operators’ plans to deploy HetNets (with their own or third party wireless networks); how they expect the combination of WiFi and cellular connectivity to contribute to their business case; and the critical success factors which will achieve their aims. Among those success factors, the quality of user experience, especially when moving between multiple networks, emerged as particularly important to the profit case, and is the focus of this white paper.