Fontech: Empowering operators to combat current challenges with WiFi

Miguel Vicario, Product Management Director at Fontech, had the pleasure of talking to Mónica Valle of Bit Life Media at Mobile World Congress about the role of WiFi in our ever connected lives. As Mónica put it, you can’t attend the biggest mobile event globally and not talk about the technology that we all rely on everyday to stay connected.

Following the launch of Fontech at the end of last year, Mónica was interested in understanding the purpose of the new brand. Miguel explained, “Fon has more than 10 years of experience as one of the leaders in the WiFi industry. The new brand, Fontech, builds on this experience in order to deliver technology solutions that enable operators to manage, operate and deploy WiFi networks in a simple and efficient way.

Fon is widely known for having created the world’s largest community network made up of over 21 million hotspots but, as Miguel highlighted during the interview, Fontech wants to go even further than this residential model. “What we did was disruptive back in 2006, changing the business model for operators. Now, in the context of 5G and the integration of complex networks, not to mention the importance of delivering superior customer service and experience, Fontech has the role of evolving Fon’s original model and taking it to the next level.”

IoT is no longer a futuristic idea, it’s a reality, and connectivity will be the cornerstone of our Smart Homes. But Mónica wanted to know if our homes are ready for all this connectivity.

The biggest change in connectivity is that we are now not only connecting people to networks but filling our networks with things, including sensors and devices. There are challenges to doing this efficiently and, although organizations such as the WBA are doing their best to put measures in place to homogenize this connectivity, many of the solutions in the market are one step behind in terms of usability. The challenge is to connect all these things in a simple and secure way.

This challenge is particularly relevant when we think about our homes. Nowadays, many of us still suffer from issues connecting both people and things to our residential WiFi networks. We’re still using basic technology to connect devices that require a quality and service of bandwidth that is far superior to what the technology permits. In this context, Fontech proposes Home WiFi, a solution that enables the end user to take control of the connection of all these devices and solves all the problems related to connectivity and coverage in the home.

This solution is extremely powerful from the perspective of the operator too. Currently, 50 – 70% of calls to their call centres are related to WiFi issues. By empowering subscribers to resolve their issues autonomously, the number of calls will fall. Fontech Home WiFi relieves operators from a significant burden in terms of the number of calls received and the high costs associated with them.

With all of us expecting ubiquitous connectivity, improving WiFi performance in our homes can only be a good thing. But Mónica, quite rightly, questioned Miguel on the importance of cybersecurity in this context.

“Security is fundamental in the deployment of any mass network. We don’t want any of the devices in our homes to be vulnerable to any type of attack,” said Miguel. Until now, the majority of us have simply shared our WiFi password with anyone who comes to our homes, meaning we really have no idea who is connected to our network at any given time. Our solution gives people real-time visibility and control over their networks, so they know exactly which devices are connected to their home WiFi network.

We’ve also thought about the importance of security when developing other Fontech solutions. For example, with Enterprise Control we want to extend this idea to business environments. Some companies still have their WiFi password displayed on a wall, or they share it with employees and visitors on pieces of paper. Either way, this is a huge security risk given that administrators have no idea who or what is connecting to the network.

“One of the traditional criticisms of WiFi is related to its lack of security, so what we need to do as leaders in WiFi, is to equip WiFi with the same level of security as cellular networks,” Miguel concluded.

So what role do operators have in all of this? Miguel explained to Mónica that at Fontech, operators are our principal partners: “I don’t want to say clients because we are on this journey together.” We’ve been long-term partners with some of the most important operators in the world and our primary role is to help them address current challenges. Rather than just selling access, they are digital companies who are trying to increase their ARPU, which is, unfortunately, falling due to the ubiquity of connectivity, the competitive market, and an ongoing price war. Our partners want to offer value-added services that help differentiate themselves within the market and this is exactly why we created Fontech.

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