Alvarion said it reached a deal with a Tier 1 Japanese operator to offload the carrier's 3G data traffic to Alvarion's carrier-grade Wi-Fi base stations in Tokyo. Such a strategy could be employed in the future by additional carriers, including those in the United States.
Alvarion said it is working with Hitachi Cable Networks on the solution for the carrier, which it did not name. The Wi-Fi base stations will cover major train stations and congested areas in downtown Tokyo business districts. Alvarion said the deployment is the initial phase of a nationwide deployment targeting crowded public spaces where data usage is high.
Other operators are turning to carrier-grade Wi-Fi for offload solutions. Wi-Fi will play a crucial role in AT&T's (NYSE: T) multibillion-dollar initiative to increase the density of its wireless network, according to one of the operator's top executives.
"Our objective for 2014 is that we won't do any small cell or in-building systems that don't include Wi-Fi," John Donovan, senior executive vice president, AT&T Technology and Network Operations, recently said.
That means AT&T's Wi-Fi footprint stands to grow significantly as the operator engages in Project Velocity IP (or VIP), the multibillion program announced last fall under which AT&T will deploy more than 10,000 new macrocells, 40,000 small cells and 1,000 distributed antenna systems (DAS) throughout its service footprint.
And AT&T isn't the only carrier looking to Wi-Fi. Other U.S. operators have worked to push cellular traffic onto Wi-Fi networks. Further, cable operators in the United States last year announced a plan to build Wi-Fi networks in cities across the country.
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