USA: Mobile Experts has released a new Carrier Wi-Fi Report, illustrating the convergence of Wi-Fi networks with mobile and cable networks to create heterogeneous networks (HetNets).
Dr. Jacob Sharony, senior analyst at Mobile Experts, said: "New technology will move quickly in Carrier Wi-Fi. We anticipate very rapid adoption of 802.11ac technology by operators, which will drive 5 GHz radios in handsets. Mobile data will be offloaded quickly onto Wi-Fi, creating a need for new controller architectures and network integration software for interoperability with mobile networks."
Joe Madden, principal analyst explained: "Wi-Fi is much cheaper than LTE in terms of cost per bit delivered. Some mobile operators are investing heavily in Wi-Fi to take advantage of rapid deployment and very low cost. As the small cell market matures, we are tracking multiple projects that combine small cells and Wi-Fi, with interesting combinations in DAS networks and other variations as well.
"This study illustrates the complexity of a heterogeneous network in terms of combined radio nodes, changes in the user devices, and changes to the core network and controller architectures to make everything play together. Our approach in this study was to scour the Wi-Fi market from one end to the other, to make sure that we had a complete view. In the end, we see a clear path to a run rate of 5 million APs per year."
This report creates a roadmap of how the Carrier Wi-Fi market will evolve in tandem with mobile networks:
Phase 0 involves disjointed networks, with very little connection between Carrier Wi-Fi networks and mobile networks.
Phase 1 comes into play with Hotspot 2.0 (Next Generation Hotspot), in which SIM authentication becomes a standard feature.
Phase 2 improves the billing, policy control, and interoperability of Carrier Wi-Fi networks; and
Phase 3 introduces advanced network intelligence to optimize the use of multiple air interface modes based on location, context, application, user status, and network conditions.