Mobile data traffic continues to grow, but evidence shows that the rate of growth has slowed in recent years, principally as a result of Wi-Fi offload. This could become one of the biggest challenges facing the mobile industry. But, if managed in the right way, MNOs can transform this challenge into a proactive strategy that derives multiple benefits for both themselves and their subscribers.
Instead of passive disengagement, MNOs can become actively involved with Wi-Fi offload so that they can maximise the benefits to them and to their customers. Indeed, proactive Wi-Fi offload strategies can create additional economic and strategic benefits for all parties.
Wi-Fi has a clear role to play as part of a heterogeneous approach to network coverage. Such an approach not only includes Wi-Fi offload as an option for users, but also encompasses use of Wi-Fi Access Points (APs) to increase coverage more generally within cells.
What is needed to enable Wi-Fi to fulfil this role is an approach that combines the benefits of both Hotspot 2.0 and ANDSF solutions, but which also incorporates smart devices and enables these to become an active element in the network selection, handover and roaming process. Such an approach would recognise the fundamental need to make user experience central to access network selection.
The solution to this challenge is two-fold, and puts the point of control directly onto the device. First, decomposing the ANDSF allows a client to be deployed on the smart mobile device to locally manage access network selection in co-ordination with defined network policies. Second, the client should also be able to act as a Policy and Charging Enforcement Function to maintain and manage policies in response to locally monitored conditions and requirements, in turn acting as a local Policy Enforcement Point (PEP) on devices.
Wi-Fi offload is both a necessity for MNOs and a positive boon for subscribers. The work of the Wi-Fi Alliance and 3GPP has produced solutions that enable network selection to be automated and seamless with respect to users. MNOs can deploy this solution to facilitate network selection and immediately derive a range of economic and strategic benefits.
By deploying key elements (ANDSF and PCEF) on smart mobile devices, the user quality of experience can also be taken into account, enabling, in time, richer service delivery and a wider range of options for MNOs and hotspot providers alike. Wi-Fi offload should be a strategic element of MNO planning: the distributed ANDSF and PCEF solution from GoS Networks ensures that this strategic role can be fully captured and monetised with clear and identifiable benefits for all stakeholders.
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