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  Date: 16/06/2013

Mobile data market trends: 3G to WiFi seamless in hotspot-2

As per some of the latest surveys, the mobile data market is attractive for internet service providers to growth in usage of 3G enabled smart phones. Mobile data traffic is predicted to grow 15x faster in next 3/4 years, making this an interesting market. This makes wireless more attractive over wire for both service providers as well as users. However 3G/4G wireless data services is not available everywhere, and in crowded places like hotels, malls, offices Wi-Fi is already a norm and also you hardly find a mobile computing device such as notebook, tablet and smart phone without WiFi, also WiFi is cheaper than 3G. This makes the service providers to provide seamless transition between 3G and Wi-Fi, when the user moves from 3G cell to Wi-Fi circle otherwise called WiFi Hotspot. The seamless transition should also help service provider to generate revenue. Presently that is the focus of service providers, to earn revenue from booming mobile data market.

Other advantage to the mobile operators is they can offload the traffic to the Wi-Fi networks so that 3G capacity can be increased.

Greenpacket has developed Signal Assisted Switching methodology for Wi-Fi network switching in mobile data offloading.

Greenpacket explains "The Signal Assisted Switching methodology in mobile data offloading enhances user experience by ensuring the device will only connect to a Wi-Fi AP when supported by a high quality Wi-Fi signal. The Wi-Fi radio control can be made more precise in relation to the user experience which makes relevant seamless network roaming between 3G-Wi-Fi in the wider mobile data offloading strategy."

Kelvin Lee, Senior General Manager of Greenpacket commented “Major telcos operating in cities are feeling the need to transform their network to embrace complimentary networks to overcome congestion issues through offload or better monetize traffic via traffic management tools and keep up with rapid delivery of mobile broadband services. But there are some that are still waiting and resisting, risking their network in reaching a critical point of collapse before reacting. We feel that this is a painful way of reaction and as cities move towards higher speed of growth, it clearly becomes cheaper to take action than not to take any at all; facing failure to play catch up could drastically impact the business goals. The early adopters, on the other hand would be reaping the success of a converged 3G-Wi-Fi offering while keeping their customers happily engaged.”

“To us, our clients and major partners, the approach of harmonizing 3G and Wi-Fi is most compelling as the debate of interference, security, authentication and integration becomes an issue of the past. Broadcasted on free-spectrum, vast availability where it matters, familiarity and the comfort archived on the end users has positioned Wi-Fi as the most widely access wireless standard to date, next to 3G making it a valuable asset to be harnessed together. What operators need to decide on are the approach and strategies to implement it on a practical level suitable to their network needs either for cellular offloading, delivering value added service or wireless coverage extension, as convergence of 3G and Wi-Fi can be scaled across levels of integration from very basic static integration to policy-driven extension and to seamless interworking with mobility.” said Lee

Another fact is most of the internet surfing happens at office or home where WiFi is mostly available. So the real need is seamless switching between WiFi and 3G. 3GPP in Release 10 to support seamless movement of selected IP traffic while supporting simultaneous 3G and Wi-Fi accesses. The services are offered with small cell station which work on WiFi. Cisco is offering what it calls "Cisco Service Provider Wi-Fi"

Here below are some of the market findings and trends shared by infonetics in mobile data market where 3G and Wi-Fi plays important role:

In a 3-way tie, revenue generation, enhanced throughput and use of unlicensed spectrum are the top deployment drivers for carrier WiFi
The fastest-growing monetization models for WiFi services are tiered/premium hotspots, managed hotspots and WiFi roaming
Hotels, sports and entertainment venues, airports, train stations and retail malls will see significant growth as carrier WiFi deployment locations by 2014
Survey respondents intend to rapidly adopt the 802.11ac standard once it becomes commercially available, anticipating that 30% of their new WiFi access points will be based on 802.11ac by the end of 2014
Cisco is the most widely deployed WiFi equipment vendor among respondent carriers, while Ruckus Wireless leads the list of vendors under evaluation for future purchases

Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave and carrier WiFi at Infonetics Research says "Hotspot 2.0 will go a long way to building the bridge between the technologies from a technical standpoint, but operators are still figuring out how to position WiFi within their broadband offerings and which service models will generate the most revenue, Offload of data traffic is not enough; WiFi’s got to pay for itself.”

When it comes WiFi hotspot density, Another market researcher ABI says Of the total global Wi-Fi hotspots, 88% of Wi-Fi is in Asia-Pacific, followed by 8% in Europe, 3% in North America, and 1% in the other regions.

ABI estimates the Global Wi-Fi Hotspots to Reach 6.3 Million in 2013. Worldwide carrier Wi-Fi deployments reached a total 4.9 million hotspots in 2012. “Despite the successful adoption of 3G and 4G mobile data services, the number of Wi-Fi Hotspots has continued to proliferate and are anticipated to surpass 6.3 million by the end of 2013,” comments industry analyst, Khin Sandi Lynn. The number includes Wi-Fi hotspots deployed by fixed-line and mobile carriers as well as third-party operators (e.g., Boingo, iPass, etc).

The WiFi can soon become better generating solution than what it is now. So it is time for hotspot-2, which the user don't need to find for cost saving net surfing. WiFi hotspot 2 feature also need support from the client device software OS. Apple's iOS 7 is said to support seamless Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0 for roaming. Hotspot 2 saves user from manually setting the SSID in his device. The user is prompted with the availability.

To learn more on technology part of seamless switching between 3G and Wi-Fi visit this link below:

3G/Wi-Fi Seamless Offload - Qualcomm at
Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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