As operators increasingly embrace Wi-Fi offloading to address mobile network congestion and reduce capital expenditures, vendors are hustling to help them commercialize carrier-grade Wi-Fi services. The latest offering comes from Stoke, which is preparing to announce a Wi-Fi Exchange gateway designed to let operators automatically authenticate Wi-Fi subscribers and securely link them to their services network.
Stoke's gateway, deployed between the Wi-Fi network and mobile network core, requires no software installation or hardware changes on mobile devices. The Wi-Fi Exchange puts all traffic routing under control of the service provider, providing insight into Wi-Fi subscriber traffic so the service provider can optimize its customers' mobile broadband experience.
"Unlike consumer or ad hoc Wi-Fi offload that offers only congestion relief, commercial offload gives subscribers access to all the services, security and standards they receive over cellular networks, effectively extending the operator's services delivery and revenue- generating capabilities to Wi-Fi," according to Stoke.
The Wi-Fi Exchange relies upon Stoke's Clientless Interworking capability, which leverages 3GPP Wireless LAN Interworking specifications. The company says it is working with technology partners to create an ecosystem supporting its approach.
Stoke is one of numerous vendors introducing platforms that essentially make Wi-Fi an element of the mobile network by providing seamless authentication and security, thus enabling operators to provision subscriber access and service offerings across multiple broadband wireless networks. Such offerings are expected to generate considerable buzz at the Mobile World Congress 2012, which will be held later this month in Barcelona.
These types of solutions are needed because although data offloading via Wi-Fi helps operators solve mobile network congestion and capacity problems, the practice is a double-edged sword in that it also encourages mobile customers to avoid using cellular networks for data delivery, cutting into operator revenues. "With the expanding availability of Wi-Fi, mobile users are increasingly choosing Wi-Fi over cellular, distancing them from the mobile operator. Operators' current strategies leveraging unmanaged Wi-Fi offload are reinforcing this effect, which represents a major threat to the business model," said Dave Williams, CTO at Stoke.
- see this Stoke web page
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