Wi-Fi off-load has quickly become one of the most talked about technologies in the mobile industry, and could very well be one of the top trends of 2012 (though we know it's still early). This has been a pretty good trick, considering many traditional mobile carriers wanted nothing to do with Wi-Fi just a few years ago. Verizon Wireless was so opposed to the technology, it wanted Wi-Fi disabled on its dual-mode handsets.
What changed carriers' minds about Wi-Fi was not necessarily the ubiquity of Wi-Fi hotspots--though that certainly helped--but the mounting difficulties with mobile data congestion. "The congestion crisis is one of the big reasons the carriers are considering Wi-Fi now," Dave Fraser, CEO of Devicescape--which uses public Wi-Fi hotspots to assemble a sort of virtual crowd-sourced Wi-Fi off-load network for mobile users--told FierceBroadbandWireless. "This is like Wi-Fi's second or third act."
Devicescape has deals with carriers such as MetroPCS, and Fraser said the company is hoping to announce a deal with a Tier 1 mobile carrier within the next several weeks. He said the company has been able to progress in talks with carriers by demonstrating its ability to validate worthwhile hotspots and allow users to securely detect and access them.
Fraser also had some a prediction for Wi-Fi off-load in 2012. At a time when controversial mobile data usage caps are the order of the day (unless you're on Sprint's network), Fraser said he believes that many carriers this year will adopt unlimited-over-Wi-Fi strategies as a way to make up for the caps with a more consumer-friendly offer.
"The reality of LTE is that there is not enough compression and not enough spectrum to support increases in applications like video calling," Fraser said. "You need something more."
A Devicescape survey suggested 83% of carriers will bundle Wi-Fi
Carriers are beginning to embrace Wi-Fi off-load