Networking giant, Cisco urges South African service providers to incorporate Wi-Fi as a means of driving business opportunities amid an explosion of mobile data.
Wi-Fi is an electronic device to exchange data wirelessly over a computer network, including high-speed Internet connections.
Cisco says that most mobile operators now realise that offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi can, and must, play a significant role in helping them avoid clogged networks and unhappy customers. In addition, service providers (SPs) are struggling to understand new business models for making money from Wi-Fi.
According to Cisco, the insatiable demand for smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices is generating huge amounts of mobile data. The group’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold from 2011 to 2016, reaching 10.8 exabytes per month.
“In parallel, the use of Wi-Fi for Internet access is exploding as more mobile devices are Wi-Fi enabled, the number of public hotspots expands, and user acceptance grows. Until recently, most technologists and mobile industry executives viewed Wi-Fi as the poor cousin to licensed mobile communications. And they most certainly never viewed any role for Wi-Fi in mobile networks or their business. The explosion of mobile data traffic has changed all of that,” the networking group said.
A recent survey conducted by Cisco predicts Wi-Fi Will Become the predominant access technology for smartphones within next two years.
The survey highlighted that the majority of mobile devices have Wi-Fi Internet access capabilities. In fact, with the exception of smartphones, Wi-Fi is now the predominant access technology for mobile devices. There has also been an increase in ‘nomadic’ devices like laptops, tablets, and eReaders that almost exclusively connect to the Internet through Wi-Fi, the group said.
Cisco outlined several considerations, implications and potential strategies for service providers to capture Wi-Fi Opportunities in South Africa:
- Offering free public Wi-Fi access with a home broadband subscription will become an important factor in how service providers in South Africa can capture Wi-Fi business opportunities to retain existing customers and attract new ones. In South Africa, hotspot visitors still usually have to pay to surf, and while some hotspots offer free access, the service is still often erratic because they have to find ways to manage the high bandwidth cost.
- There is a pressing need to incorporate Wi-Fi as an integral part of portfolio. As the history demonstrates, South Africa will follow the Wi-Fi usage trend in the US. Subsequently, in order to compete effectively, South African service providers will need to incorporate Wi-Fi as an integral part of their portfolio utilising pricing, marketing, and new technological solutions to create compelling and integrated offers and solutions of value to mobile users.
- Targeting Wi-Fi use in the home by creating solutions and incentives, service providers in South Africa can encourage users to offload mobile traffic at home, while retaining the ability to provide a unique and differentiated customer experience.
- Deliver on the New Mobile. Align network architectures and deploy appropriate technologies to deliver a seamless, integrated mobile Wi-Fi user experience. As demand for mobile devices and network connectivity continues to grow in South Africa, both Wi-Fi and traditional mobile networks will be critical to meeting the needs of mobility-enabled consumers.
Stuart Taylor, director of Cisco IBSG service provider practice said: “As demand for mobile devices and network connectivity continues to grow, both Wi-Fi and traditional mobile networks will be critical to meeting the needs of mobility-enabled consumers. In South Africa as well as globally, service providers are in an enviable position of being able to successfully integrate these networks and the experience of their customers to provide what the market wants: new mobile.”
Craig Zeeman, director of sales at Cisco South Africa said: “One of the mandates of the South African government is to provide its citizens with universal access to broadband connectivity. This has already resulted in an increase of mobile devices in the country putting service providers and mobile operators in the ideal position to take advantage of the high demand for smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices that generate a significant amount of mobile data.”