Wi-Fi in wireless: Not just an offload technology, now a strategic tool

For years wireless carriers in Europe viewed Wi-Fi technology as a minor factor in their overall business plans. Wi-Fi typically was viewed as a destination to offload excess cellular traffic to and nothing more. Now, however, operators ranging from O2 UK to France Telecom see Wi-Fi as an integral part of their service offering, a technology that requires careful consideration. Perhaps most notably, these carriers are seeing Wi-Fi services as a way to set themselves apart from the competition. "The role of the operator is to deliver a good experience by using the right set of technologies and deployments," said Yves Bellego, France Telecom's technical director of strategy. "This is why we believe that methods for seamless mobility between cellular and Wi-Fi are needed, and that standardization is the way to have these mechanisms." FierceWireless:Europe Editor Paul Rasmussen delved into this issue in this new special report.