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  • Mark Middleton

Carrier-Driven Wi-Fi Offload Only In Its Infancy

Wi-Fi has been around a long time, yet Carrier/MNO-driven Wi-Fi Offload is still in its infancy.

In fact, the founders of Acurix Networks deployed their first large-scale metro Wi-Fi network back in 2002. Now, with Wi-Fi radios inside every smartphone, tablet, laptop and a growing number of devices making up the Internet of things, one has to ask where we are at in the Wi-Fi Offload adoption cycle.

Carrier-Driven Wi-Fi Offload is still in its infancy, whereas User-Driven Wi-Fi Offload is mature.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in some places up to 70% of mobile data traffic already goes over Wi-Fi networks. This is User-Driven Wi-Fi Offload, which is mature, and which has been defined by iGR as: A subscriber/end user who chooses a Wi-Fi connection (except one inside the home or office) rather than use their 3G/4G mobile broadband connection. If the non-home/non-work WiFi network did not exist, this traffic would have gone over the mobile operator’s cellular data network. This is not really Wi-Fi offload per se, but rather a subscriber choosing Wi-Fi over cellular.

The definition of Carrier-Driven Wi-Fi Offload (being active Wi-Fi offload) excludes subscriber-chosen usage on run-of-the-mill home or office networks and random, third-party hotspots. For us, Carrier or MNO-Driven Wi-Fi Offload means:

Carrier/MNO-Driven Wi-Fi Offload: Carrier or MNO-diverted traffic from 3G/4G RAN to a Wi-Fi network (preferably carrier-grade), which the carrier or MNO either owns, or with which it has a commerical roaming relationship. Therefore, this may include a home network if set up with a second SSID to allow MNO subscribers to roam onto it.

When compared to User-Driven Wi-Fi Offload, Carrier or MNO-Driven Wi-Fi Offload is just beginning and is only in its infancy. It will, however, exponentially drive Wi-Fi Offload uptake and the deployment of well-placed, carrier-grade, large-scale Wi-Fi networks.

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