Operators moving the Wi-Fi way

Indian operators are stitching their Wi-Fi plans as this is in sync with their 3G and 4G strategy. With 3G and 4G spectrum coming at a premium, operators have to rely on Wi-Fi to provide ubiquitous coverage and also to make mobile broadband affordable in the country.

Indian operators are planning to increase data revenue by providing a ubiquitous data network through seamless coverage of 2G, 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi. The seamless coverage leads to seamless integration between these networks, leading to increase in coverage area and also increased QoS (quality of service). So, all the technologies go hand in hand as it helps in complimenting on one another network strength.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance predicts that the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots globally will grow more than four fold, to 5.8 million, by 2015 and this growth is inspired by a plethora of new Wi-Fi-enabled devices launched by vendors.

Wi-Fi supports different business sectors  like: Hospitality, Enterprise, Residential, Wholesale and others. Initially, operators are focusing on hospitality Wi-fi but with not too many hotspots in India they have to either opt for enterprise or residential Wi-Fi model.

Bharti Airtel plans to roll out Wi-Fi services as well as offer mobile data offload solution in major cities like: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Chandigarh. Idea has selected residential Wi-Fi model and tried some pilots in Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Cochin and Vizag. Aircel is moving through the hospitality route. In case of Reliance Jio it will be a mix of residential and enterprise Wi-Fi.  However,  RCOM, BSNL and MTNL have not unveiled their  strategy but it is expected that they will also finalize their plans soon.

With respect to vendors, Ericsson and Cisco have been very active in the Indian market. Ruckus was the first vendor to deploy Wi-Fi with Tikona Digital Networks. After acquiring Bel Air, the Swedish mobile equipment giant Ericsson has integrated its high-powered outdoor technology into its wireless networks thereby giving operators an edge over other vendors. Cisco has used its enterprise expertise to develop carrier Wi-Fi strategy and has been very successful.

Wi-Fi vendors for Operators
Aircel – Ericsson, Huawei
Bharti Airtel – Cisco, Ericsson, Alcatel Lucent-Ruckus, Huawei
Idea Cellular – Cisco, Ericsson, NSN
Reliance Jio Infocomm – Cisco
Vodafone – Cisco, Ericsson, NSN

For Wi-Fi to succeed in the country, the operators need to promote creation of hotspots and more the hotspots in the country, the better will be the coverage. So. all stakeholders should come together to increase hotspot by multiple fold in couple of years for mobile broadband to have its presence in the country .

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