Moving from best-effort to carrier-grade WiFi deployments

Operators broadly accept the benefits of deploying community WiFi networks in terms of cost savings through offload and WiFi-first strategies and churn reduction through WiFi-based value-added services. However, until now, they have never been able to get the most out of deployments because they lack tools for managing WiFi network performance and QoE. This results in a majority of community WiFi networks providing only a best-effort experience.

What do we mean by best effort?

Best-effort WiFi networks deliver an inconsistent user experience that is ruled by smartphone operating systems rather than the operator. In fact, they have no control over network performance and lack real-time visibility of what is going on within their community WiFi networks. These networks are also completely isolated from cellular networks, meaning that service providers (SPs) aren’t able to track customers or have the same services or management capabilities, as they move off cellular networks to understand their behavior and usage. In fact, providers have very limited subscriber management capabilities on WiFi networks.

With such limited control and visibility of community WiFi networks, it is no surprise that SPs aren’t leveraging WiFi to its full potential. But in order to do so, what do they need?

Carrier-grade WiFi networks

Upgrading community WiFi networks from best-effort to carrier-grade will solve the issues operators have been faced with until now. Not only will upgraded networks grant them the end-to-end network performance visibility they have previously lacked from both the end-user and network perspectives, but it will also empower them to control the QoE delivered to their customers. As a result, they will be able to implement mobile data offloading strategies without impacting user experience. In fact, the result should be so seamless that subscribers don’t even realize they are moving between networks.

Naturally, this will enable them to take advantage of strategies such as offload and WiFi-first that weren’t previously utilized to their full potential. In the context of booming data demand and new data plans, such as unlimited 4G which we mentioned in a previous blog, these strategies are fundamental for operators to be able to meet connectivity demand cost-effectively. In practice, this also means that operators can collect valuable subscriber insights no matter what network they are connected to.

So, how can operators make this upgrade? What technology will they require to do so? Stay tuned for our next blog! And make sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest industry insights and Fon | Fontech news!