IHS survey confirms Wi-Fi operator interest in Hotspot 2.0

If there were any doubt where Wi-Fi service providers are headed, a new report confirms their interest in migrating to Hotspot 2.0. Service providers across the globe that operate carrier Wi-Fi networks expect to significantly increase their access point deployments by the end of 2016, according to a survey by IHS Infonetics.

IHS Infonetics' survey shows that a quarter of the respondents expect that by 2016, 26 percent of their access points will be Hotspot 2.0-compliant to enable seamless roaming among Wi-Fi networks and between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

"Revenue generation has become a key driver of carrier Wi-Fi deployments. Not only does Hotspot 2.0 support integration of Wi-Fi with mobile and fixed networks, but it supports the creation of new revenue models for Wi-Fi services," said Richard Webb, research director for mobile backhaul and small cells at IHS.

Earlier this year, Boingo Wireless said it had installed Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) technology at five airports in the United States. At the time, Boingo CTO Derek Peterson said that NFV technology will help Boingo provide different levels of service to both its Wi-Fi roaming partners and to its end users. Importantly, he said that the technology will help Boingo meet the quality-of-service requirements of its roaming partners, including wireless carriers. It's all part of the company's S.M.A.R.T network design effort.

The IHS survey found that while not all the carriers interviewed currently have firm plans to deploy NFV in their carrier Wi-Fi networks, the drivers for doing so relate to revenue, with capex and opex efficiency, greater network flexibility and support for rapid service changes topping the list.

Survey respondents' top drivers for deploying carrier Wi-Fi are preventing churn, bundling service with mobile broadband, improving coverage and generating new Wi-Fi access revenue. According to IHS, carriers surveyed are adopting a variety of monetization models, with tiered hotspots and Wi-Fi roaming growing the fastest through 2016.

For the third year in a row, Ruckus Wireless and Cisco lead respondent perception of top carrier Wi-Fi vendors, the research firm says.

Earlier this month, Ruckus introduced the first commercially available products that are Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) Passpoint certified for Hotspot 2.0, Release 2. The Release 2 introduces standardized credential management, among other things, so it's easier for network operators to manage devices and for consumers to use hotspots.

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