Why sensible Wi-Fi management is crucial for mobile network operators

Nowadays, everyone’s consuming more and more data. The rise of smartphones, clickable videos and mobile apps has resulted in higher data demand. Global mobile traffic increased by an astonishing 69% in 2014 – and it’s set to soar. Fortunately, there’s a way to manage the congestion. It’s called data offloading, a clever way of freeing up bandwidth by shifting data from cellular channels to complementary network systems, such as Wi-Fi. Not only does offloading decrease congestion, but it also represents a commercial opportunity for network operators, seizing market share from fixed line operators and expanding beyond the mobile market.

Problem sorted? Unfortunately, it’s not a simple process. The trouble is mobile network operators aren’t managing the offloading process in the correct way. A recent study found MNOs are letting bandwidth go unused and aren’t even changing frequencies despite massive network interference. The firm found that even on urban networks, where data demands are higher, two channels of bandwidth went unused – that’s around 25 lost HD videos or 3,000 dropped HD voice calls.

Not only will poor resource management cost operators money – around £18bn according to estimates – but it has a negative impact on user experience. Using an offloading system should feel as seamless as browsing a cellular network; not like you’re being shoved on to a poor service by your mobile network provider just because user demand dramatically increases.

So how can mobile operators make the most of offload management, maximize their revenue, and deliver for consumers? What’s required is a holistic approach, taking into account factors like battery life, time, network quality and location to ensure the offloading process is as smooth as possible.

Incidentally, conquering the data offloading quagmire is something Gemalto is working on. Advanced Wi-Fi Services enable MNOs to maximize the quality of their service by applying rules – battery life, location and network quality – to implement prevailing network quality. The transition from cellular to Wi-Fi, and vice-versa, is rendered far smoother, ensuring service continuity.

With mobile subscriptions soaring, effective management of unregulated wireless spectrum is becoming increasingly important. Network operators run the risk of dissatisfying customers and losing revenue if they do not deploy their resources in the right way.

What’s your view on Wi-Fi management and the response of MNOs? Let us know by tweeting at @Gemalto or by posting a comment below.

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