WBA Industry Report

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Global Trends in Public Wi-Fi

Next Generation Hotspot moves Wi-Fi to the heart of the carrier network

Executive summary

A quote from JR Wilson, chairman of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), sums up the new role that public Wi-Fi is taking in the lives of carriers, hotspot owners and consumers.

“The biggest change will be one that people won’t even realize has happened – a whole new customer experience enabled by ubiquitous mobile broadband access.”

One of the striking differences in the WBA’s annual report in 2013, compared to 2012, is that operators’ emphasis has shifted sharply from simple access and data offload, to customer experience and value.

This change of perception is being driven by technologies which enable public Wi-Fi to be integrated far more seamlessly with mobile and wireline networks, such as the WBA’s Next Generation Hotspot and the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Passpoint™ program, as well as open roaming platforms.

In a survey of about 200 Wi-Fi ecosystem players, conducted by Maravedis-Rethink, it was clear that such initiatives were helping create increased optimism about public Wi-Fi, with 52% feeling more confident about investing than they did a year ago. Key drivers for NGH deployment include the need to retain customers with a superior experience, as well as network efficiencies and new revenues. Almost 57% of the respondents said customer experience/retention was a very important reason to implement carrier-class Wi-Fi. However, challenges remain, notably uncertainty about ROI, cited by 44%.

Selected key findings:

  • Tier one MNOs expect 22% of the capacity they add in 2013 to come from public Wi-Fi and by 2018, 75% of their small cells will have integrated Wi-Fi.
  • The deployment of hotspots will gather pace to meet all these requirements, whether by carriers themselves, specialists or wholesalers. By 2018 the total installed base will reach over 55m in 2018, over half in Asia-Pacific.
  • Venues will become more varied. This year’s survey predicts that shopping malls and stadiums will be the main generators of demand growth as very large-scale Wi-Fi and roaming technologies evolve. That reflects a proliferation of business models. In 2013-14, the most important monetization strategies are offload and targeted marketing, but other emerging models include community Wi-Fi, neutral host services, and, over the horizon, full quad plays and the internet of things.

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Key findings infographic, 2013

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Download our at-a-glance overview of the WBA’s new Industry Report on Global Trends in Public Wi-Fi. Please feel free to distribute to the widest possible audience!

Global Trends in Public Wi-Fi – WBA Wi-Fi Industry Report, 2013 Full report November 2013

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Next Generation Hotspot moves Wi-Fi to the heart of the carrier network. WBA’s 2013 report on the Wi-Fi hotspot market, compiled by global research company Maravedis-Rethink, is now available. The report reveals that Tier 1 Mobile Operators expect 22% of all additional data capacity added during 2013-2014 to come from Wi-Fi offload. “This survey doesn’t just show major growth ahead for public Wi-Fi deployments, but a strong focus on overall customer experience rather than just speed and convenience,” said Caroline Gabriel, Research Director, Maravedis-Rethink.

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Caroline has been analyzing and reporting in the hi-tech industries since 1986 and has a huge wealth of experience of technology trends and how they impact on business models. She started her career as a journalist, specializing in enterprise and carrier networks and in silicon technologies. She spent much of her journalistic career at VNU Business Publishing, then Europe’s largest producer of technology publications and information services . She was publishing director for the launch of VNU’s pan-European online content services, and then European editorial director. She then made the move from publishing into technology market analysis and consulting, and in 2002 co-founded Rethink Technology Research with Peter White. Rethink specializes in trends and business models for wireless, converged and quad play operators round the world and the technologies that support them. Caroline’s role is to head up the wireless side of the business, leading the creation of research, newsletters and consulting services focused on mobile platforms and operator models. In this role, she has become a highly recognized authority on 4G systems such as LTE and WiMAX, and a prolific speaker at industry events. Consulting and research clients come from major mobile operators, the wireless supply chain and financial institutions.