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Wireless Infrastructure Newsletter

5G is impossible without full convergence November 21 2016

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), in partnership with Maravedis-Rethink, has published its Annual Industry Report for 2016, revealing that the Internet of Things (IoT), the hyper-dense network and 5G will not be economic or practical without the convergence and coexistence of licensed and unlicensed technologies. 

Business Models Enabled by Heterogeneity November 15 2016

The introduction set out a picture of the wireless world, in which many types of spectrum and network increasingly work together to create a seamless pool of capacity for service providers, enterprises and consumers to use. 

The Road to Network Convergence November 08 2016

A year ago, when the Wireless Broadband Alliance announced its Vision 2020 program, it was moving away from a specific focus on Wi-Fi, and towards a far broader platform based around many unlicensed spectrum bands and technologies. This recognized the fundamental and exciting role that unlicensed spectrum will play in pushing the boundaries of wireless experience and business cases between now and 2020; and in the platform that becomes 5G.

Unlicensed spectrum technologies have come a long way from being the disruptive younger sibling of the licensed-band networks, to having an equal place at the table. Indeed, this year’s upcoming WBA report looks beyond unlicensed spectrum on its own, and towards the rising levels of convergence with licensed technologies, to enable new performance levels and flexibility for service providers of all kinds.

Coexistence, and increasingly, full convergence will drive the next generation of wireless technologies, along with some key enablers of the heterogeneous network (HetNet) – network virtualization, new management techniques such as self-optimizing networks (SON), flexible approaches to spectrum licensing and aggregation.

Without convergence, the Internet of Things, the hyper-dense network, and indeed 5G will not be economic or even practical. These are three cornerstones of new emerging business cases for wireless service providers, whether mobile operators, pure-play Wi-Fi or machine-to-machine operators, or wireline carriers with a wireless element to their platforms. All of them will depend on different unlicensed technologies coming together, and often working with licensed networks. For instance, for the IoT, over two-thirds of operators expect to deploy two or more different technologies in parallel.

Converged networks will enable or enhance many business cases which rely on massive IoT connectivity or on hyper-dense data networks. Many of these will be seen in the context of the smart city, a key area of focus and activity for the WBA in 2016, and this year’s report devotes a full section to the massive potential of these environments to drive social and economic improvements, and in so doing, to influence future wireless technology roadmaps.

Those roadmaps will lead eventually to 5G – not just a radio upgrade, but an end-to-end platform, spanning the core to the edge of the network, and a top-to-bottom one, from the radio to the applications layer. Current developments in the Wi-Fi market, including the next wave of 802.11 standards and moves towards virtualization, will feed into this new platform alongside those from the cellular and M2M worlds. The result will be a flexible, radio-neutral 5G environment in which a whole new generation of business models will be able to thrive in unlicensed as well as licensed spectrum, building on a long history of innovation in the Wi-Fi community.

Join us at the Wireless Global Congress in San Jose November 14-17, 2016, to learn more about the WBA’ vision in this four day event, featuring a two day conference programme and two days of membership meetings and invitation-only sessions.


More than half of world’s urban population has no broadband access June 20 2016

We tend to take broadband availability and affordability as a given, at least in large cities! That’s not what we found in a recent research we conducted on behalf of the wireless broadband alliance. In fact we found that More than half of world’s urban population has no broadband access. 57% of world’s population are urban unconnected, with 37% of these people living in some of the world’s wealthiest cities like New York or Shanghai.

This report presents the findings of research conducted by Maravedis on behalf of the Wireless Broadband Alliance regarding the state of the urban unconnected population in 18 large cities as well as each of their related international regions.

The conclusions presented take into consideration an analysis of urban broadband adoption at both the city and regional levels.

  • The digital divide phenomenon is not limited to rural or remote areas. A staggering 57% of world’s urban population remains unconnected, either with fixed or mobile broadband. That represents more than 2.2 billion people living in cities across the world.
  • Wide differences exist in broadband access when comparing metro areas. This means that an important segment of the population inside large cities are being left out of the digital age, either because they cannot afford the service or because the service is simply not available in their neighborhood.
  • Large, sophisticated cities are still lagging behind in terms of broadband penetration. Los Angeles, New York City, and Shanghai are good examples. More than 25% of their population unconnected.
  • Affordability and social inequality represent the primary obstacles to urban connectivity. Urban citizens still remain unconnected either because they cannot afford the broadband service or the device. The research methodology is explained at the end of the paper.

Findings at the City Level

First, analysis at the city level reveals a huge contrast when it comes to urban broadband access between large cities around the world. Among the cities researched, the lowest proportion of citizens without broadband access is in London (UK) where only 8% or 683,095 of the population is unconnected. However, in Lagos (Nigeria) the portion of unconnected is 88.2% or 10,168,090 people. This demonstrates a wide gap between cities. This is not a surprising result and is well in line with overall regional differences, explained by differences in economic, social, technology and telecom regulatory environments.

The disadvantage experienced by the citizens of Lagos is not surprising at all since the average of unconnected citizens in all the cities examined is just 37%. Also, most of the cities surpassing the average are located in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC) regions. On the other hand, the cities located in more developed regions, such as North America and Europe, and two APAC countries (Seoul and Tokyo) show considerable lower proportions of unconnected, and are below the general average.

Findings at the Regional Level

The analysis of broadband access at the regional level provides results which are consistent with those at the city level. Figure 4 and 5 show the region with the highest proportion of urban unconnected is MEA (Middle East and Africa) with 82% or 515 million unconnected citizens. That region is followed by APAC (Asia Pacific) with 68% or 1.2 billion urban unconnected citizens. This staggering number can be explained by the high proportion of urban population without broadband access in highly populated and countries, such as China and India.

Download the full report.


Wi-Fi Roaming Business Case December 11 2015

More and more, people throughout the world are relying on their smart devices to stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues when they are traveling. Cellular roaming services have been available for quite some time. However, it’s been estimated that as many as 70% of international travelers often rely on W-Fi networks instead of traditional mobile services according to a white paper entitled “Wi-Fi Roaming Business Case” recently published by the WBA.

What does this new reality mean for service providers? It means that there is a huge opportunity for growing revenues.

Service providers have the opportunity to leverage the population’s familiarity with and general acceptance of Wi-Fi by creating new services and products. This will encourage additional roaming usage and generate new revenue.

For fixed service providers, a next generation managed Wi-Fi network will improve the overall user experience in the following ways:

  • Wi-Fi hotspot connections will be simplified.
  • Roaming between Wi-Fi hotspots will be seamless.
  • Wi-Fi hotspots will have better performance.
  • Connection to Wi-Fi hotspots will be secure.
  • End users will have more privacy.
  • And, end users will have access to a much larger Wi-Fi network in a wide range of geographies and venues.

For mobile service providers, a next generation managed Wi-Fi network creates substantial business opportunities that include:

  • Wi-Fi roaming extends their mobile network reach.
  • It enables them to instantly gain a large hotspot footprint.
  • They can pay for actual usage rather than investing in network that may not get fully utilized.
  • They can avoid capital and operational costs while still providing Wi-Fi services to their customers.
  • Also, without those expenses, smaller operators can focus on fast-tracking business growth through Wi-Fi roaming.

A Top Down View of the Wi-Fi Roaming Ecosystem

The three primary stakeholder groups in the Wi-Fi roaming ecosystem are the visited Wi-Fi network providers, hub and clearing houses, and subscribers.

Visited Wi-Fi network operators include a wide range of entities that provide access and Wi-Fi connectivity to subscribers. There are fixed network operators such as Comcast. There are mobile network owner/operators such as AT&T. There are venues such as conference centers. There are multi-site establishments such as hotel chains. There are millions of one-off locations all around the world that offer free and open Wi-Fi. And, there are aggregators such as Boingo that have built their business around connecting and managing access to pools of Wi-Fi networks.

The Wi-Fi hub is essentially modeled on GSM roaming. It provides a central connectivity point between the visited Wi-Fi networks and the home subscriber networks by handling interconnectivity as well as settlement and clearing. Interconnectivity involves maintaining information associated with each Wi-Fi access point in each Wi-Fi network, and managing the authentication and authorization process of an end-customer to that visited network back to their home network database. Settlement and clearing involves the accounting of usage between networks and reconciling that usage across the visited Wi-Fi networks to ensure that users can get billed and providers can get paid.

Subscribers are the end customers that purchase Wi-Fi services from visited Wi-Fi network operators. They rely on mobile access and will benefit directly from Wi-Fi roaming. Typically, subscribers use an app or their device’s built-in functionality to find appropriate Wi-Fi access points and managed the connection process. Subscribers have a direct billing relationship with their home service provider and purchase a service plan that includes Wi-Fi roaming.

With all of the stakeholders in place, one of the essential components for supporting Wi-Fi roaming is the interoperability between the visited service providers and the home services providers. Because operators will take different approaches to making Wi-Fi roaming a reality, a range of business models will emerge to take advantage of new revenue opportunities.

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More than Half of Operators Plan to Deploy Carrier-grade Wi-Fi October 12 2015

Wireless Broadband Alliance Research Shows More than Half of Operators Plan to Deploy Carrier-grade Wi-Fi

Internet of Things, Smart Cities and Converged Services Driving Demand for Next Generation Wi-Fi San Jose and Singapore – 12th October 2015 – The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the industry association focused on driving next generation Wi-Fi and its role in Public Wi-Fi services, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Converged Services, Smart Cities and 5G, today published its annual report on the state of the Wi-Fi ecosystem, compiled by global research company Maravedis-Rethink. The report reveals that 57% of Operators have firm timelines in place for the deployment of Carrier-Grade network architecture. In addition the research showed that by 2020 80% of respondents plan to have deployments in the areas if IoT/M2M, and more than half already have plans for Converged Services and Smart Cities.

This year’s survey also highlighted that, as confidence grows in Carrier-grade Wi-Fi, the shift away from Best Effort networks will continue to gather speed. At current growth the report estimates that Carrier-grade hotspots will outnumber best effort in the installed base by the end of 2017, and by 2020 only a small legacy base of best effort hotspots will remain – less than 10% of the total – with all new deployments being Carrier-grade or better. Such findings indicate how rapidly the Wi-Fi services landscape is changing, driven by the new business imperatives which are the baseline for further innovation and deployments.

“Increased Operator confidence in Carrier grade Wi-Fi technology has led to a surge in the growth of deployments over the past 12 months and set a trend that will to continue. Within 5 years there will be as much as a 70% rise in the number of Carrier-grade public Wi-Fi hotspots deployed, vastly outnumbering current best effort,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA. “These shifts mean that the themes of the WBA’s Vision 2020 are equally applicable to all the ecosystem’s stakeholders; Accelerating development of relevant technologies to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape, Diversifying in time with the changing face of the Wi-Fi ecosystem, and Increasing investment in development, testing and deployments to continue the push towards Wi-Fi ubiquity, unlicensed wireless, IoT, 5G and beyond.”
“This year’s survey has demonstrated a growing momentum within the ecosystem away from talking about the benefits of Carrier-grade to actually realising its potential in high-growth areas such as IoT and Smart Cities via deployment. Next Generation Hotspot and Passpoint technology have been fundamental enablers in the transition to Carrier-grade Wi-Fi and as investment increases so the potential returns will grow as new revenue streams develop.” said Caroline Gabriel, Research Director, Maravedis-Rethink.

The report also discovered the growing use of Wi-Fi as a strategic platform by an increasing variety of service providers including pure-plays, aggregators, MNOs, MSOs and vertical market operators. In 2015, almost one-quarter of the business value of Wi-Fi relates to reduced costs and overall ARPU improvement, but by 2019 these companies expect to be harnessing Wi-Fi, often in combination with their own networks, to generate incremental revenues directly. The biggest opportunities are seen in smart cities, Wi-Fi First and multiplay bundles including everywhere access to content and applications.

The survey carried out during Q3 2015, had a total of 212 respondents: 38% of those being operators. Other significant respondent groups were Wi-Fi equipment and device vendors, with 28% and consultants/integrators, 17%. The majority of responses came from North America (40%) and Europe (26%), followed by Asia-Pacific (16%).

To download the full report please go to: http://shop.maravedis-bwa.com/products/from-2016-to-5g-wireless-broadband-alliance-industry-report

About Wireless Broadband Alliance
Founded in 2003, the mission of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is to champion the development of the converged wireless broadband ecosystem through seamless, secure and interoperable unlicensed wireless broadband services for delivering outstanding user experience. Building on our heritage of NGH and carrier Wi-Fi, WBA will continue to drive and support the adoption of Next Gen Wi-Fi and other unlicensed wireless services across the entire public Wi-Fi ecosystem, including IoT, Big Data, Converged Services, Smart Cities, 5G, etc Today, membership includes major fixed operators such as BT, Comcast and Time Warner Cable; seven of the top 10 mobile operator groups (by revenue) and leading technology companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, Huawei Technologies, Google and Intel. WBA member operators collectively serve more than 2 billion subscribers and operate more than 25 million hotspots globally. The WBA Board includes AT&T, Boingo Wireless, BT, China Telecom, Cisco Systems, Comcast, iPass, KT Corporation, Liberty Global, NTT DOCOMO, Orange and Ruckus Wireless. http://www.wballiance.com
About Maravedis-Rethink
Maravedis-Rethink is a premier wireless infrastructure analyst firm focusing on broadband wireless infrastructure as well as industry spectrum regulations and operator trends. Since 2002, Maravedis and Rethink Research have provided clients worldwide with strategic insight to help them achieve key business objectives. Its services include disruptive reports, webinars and online databases, analyst support and briefings as well as custom consulting engagements. www.maravedis-bwa.com


Press Contact:
Ed Howson
Temono for Wireless Broadband Alliance
ed.howson@temono.com
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