|Topic:||Wi-Fi: Reinventing possibilities, reimagining opportunities: Next generation Wi-Fi is driving revenue benefits for operators and cost savings for end user communities|
|Title:||CEO & MD|
Nikhil Jain, CEO & MD, Elitecore Technologies
Spearheading the execution of Elitecore’s business activities and corporate operations as a Chief Executive Officer, Nikhil has brought in industry leading solutions that have created a major turnaround for Elitecore becoming a global player and gaining significant credibility in the BSS and Packet core space. He has been instrumental in the development of the company’s product portfolio, with his constant supervision right from visualization to the maturity stage of each product like BSS, PCRF, AAA, 24online and Wi-Fi SMP. Being a great proponent of emerging technologies, he has played a pivotal role in making BSS Transformation, Data Monetization and WiFi offload bestselling solutions for Elitecore. Nikhil plays an influential role in managing and guiding Elitecore global business units with channel and performance measures in the face of intense competition.
To stay relevant and to reduce customer churn, mobile operators will need to support a vast array of devices and offer Wi-Fi services at strategic venues. Carrier Wi-Fi could be just the solution to meeting this high customer demand, providing operators with a simple, cost-effective, highly efficient option for establishing a public internet connection.
The telecom industry is experiencing a transformational shift, globally, driven by a huge data surge that is giving additional stress on telecom networks. Faster technological growth in wireless connectivity and mobile devices has marked the advent of a new revolution for the telecom sector and as a result, Wi-Fi is quickly gaining popularity as one of the key frontier of innovation for telecom operators. Initially it was viewed by the service providers as a means of avoiding capital and operating costs, using it to offload data traffic in congested parts of their networks. However, most of the service providers are adopting Wi-Fi to improve users’ experience of their core cellular networks, through providing easy to use, high quality access for the consumption of huge amounts of data as well as cater to a large user base. This is essential to promote greater usage of the network and to retain the customer base in a cost efficient manner.
Most of the operators prefer to have Wi-Fi adoption and roll out as a strategy along with their cellular network deployments. According to an industry research, 85 percent telecom operators plan to invest in carrier-grade Wi-Fi by 2016. Today, a lot of smart devices are Wi-Fi-capable only. A typical subscriber today not only owns a smart phone but also several other Wi-Fi-only devices (without 3G or 4G support) like iPod, tablet, Apple’s iWatch and other wearable devices. To augment this, research shows that within the next few years, the majority of the average user’s mobile data will be sent over Wi-Fi networks, with as little as 15 per cent going through 3G or 4G networks.
Operators constantly seek for various options to gain back from the cost spent on placing Wi-Fi infrastructure and how they can further monetize from Wi-Fi network roll outs. Increase in the smart phone usage, heavy data access and requirement of anytime anywhere connectivity amongst the users along with Wi-Fi hotspot deployment across multiple locations together enables operators to make the maximum use of it fulfilling their vision of monetizing from the services as well as enabling the end users with enhanced customer experience.
Hence operators are adopting the strategy of rolling out Wi-Fi by adopting multiple business cases across public locations like malls, cafes, universities, hotels, hospitals, airports, restaurants, enterprises, stadiums, government institutions, retailers, transports, resorts, entertainment venues and other public places.
Wi-Fi, the big game changer
This is a serious game-changer for mobile operators. To stay relevant and to reduce customer churn, mobile operators will need to support a vast array of devices and offer Wi-Fi services at these strategic venues. Carrier Wi-Fi could be just the solution to meeting this high customer demand, providing operators with a simple, cost-effective, highly efficient option for establishing a public internet connection.
Carrier Wi-Fi represents a growing trend that helps effectively meet these challenges and bridge the gap of connecting Carrier Wi-Fi with Public places ensuring enhanced user engagement. The technology not only helps subscribers connect with the device of their choice wherever they go, but it also enables operators to expand their reach and differentiate their services by offering Wi-Fi connections to these major locations as part of their value offerings.
It is in this way that Carrier Wi-Fi represents a true win-win situation by supporting a healthy business proposition and a symbiotic customer-business relationship. Wi-Fi solutions will thus enable carriers with a large portfolio for various public offerings for better development of various industries, faster connectivity and various business cases.
Enabling Wi-Fi Services at public places:
Being one of the most emerging and dynamic wireless technologies, a power shift has been observed in Wi-Fi adoption from traditional telcos to the venue owners and retailers who are also getting on the Wi-Fi game. They offer Wi-Fi connectivity as a complementary service to their customers to gain competitive edge and win customer loyalty.
Operators can offer varied kind of use cases at these locations and enhance the revenue potential. Plans like complimentary Wi-Fi to access mails, social media, time based offerings like free Wi-Fi for a limited time-frame and then pay per use, avail Wi-Fi services by watching a video or advertisement on portal for login etc.
Enhancing experience for fans at live-events
Wi-Fi can offer a gamut of services for end users at various events. However, addressing the need of data services and provide thousands of people simultaneous internet access over a large area is quite challenging. Wi-Fi services at such location can reduce the congestion due to 3G traffic and help to overcome the immense network clogging which could have hampered the data and even voice calls and text access in such densely crowded events. The service providers can offer free Wi-Fi services to all the spectators, show them advertisements on their smart devices via operator specific mobile app, show location directions within the stadium, online ticket sale, merchandise sale, live video replays for the events, event related news, photos, social media update etc. Even in India where Wi-Fi business is still in its nascent stage, the fans are expecting more efficient and seamless communication channels at such events to help them stay connected with the rest of the world.
Engaging shoppers with Wi-Fi
Retailers around the world are providing Wi-Fi to bring more customers into the shop and encourage them to spend more time there. Many malls in India offer free Wi-Fi services to visitors visiting the mall and facilitate them with seamless Wi-Fi experience. Features such as real-time customer analytics and heat mapping can enable the shop owners to receive relevant information about their customers so that they can modify their branding and sales strategies accordingly. Such Wi-Fi Solution provided to Service Providers enables the retailers to offer the end users with discount coupons on mobile app, flash advertisements, real time promotions and offers to the walk-in shoppers, directions in the mall, best offers and so on.
Connectivity on the go for commuters
A quick update on social media, accessing important emails, searching online deals or checking weather forecasts or hotel availability for the destination location; communication options are simply limitless for the travelers with Wi-Fi. Service providers in India are offering complimentary Wi-Fi services to travelers in trains airplanes, buses, etc. for an enhanced service experience, attain user’s mindshare, create visibility and increase monetization opportunities.
Smart cities for smart citizens:
Moving a step ahead, operators are serving the masses through various Wi-Fi enabled smart services on the go which will further trigger the growth and development of Smart Cities that completely run on technology—be it for electricity, water, sanitation and recycling, ensuring 24/7 water supply, traffic and transport systems. Wi-Fi is now largely seen as one of the most critical technologies for operators to realize the full potential of connected Cities.
The concept of Smart Cities has taken on a lot of traction and cities around the world are harnessing the power of Wi-Fi to enable real-time information and gain valuable insights for its citizens. With the speedy-roll out plan of ‘Digital India’, Indian government plans to fully enable Wi-Fi services across 25 major cities with population over one million and major tourist destinations by December 2015.
Using the mobile platform as the backbone, the on-set of the digital India initiative by Indian government seeks to transform India into a connected economy to attract investments in tourism business. Wi-Fi along with large number of Wi-Fi hotspots will enable its citizens to thrive on connectivity and solve their most critical problems like parking, traffic management, electricity, water and waste management; on a shared and intelligent network infrastructure. At the same time, it will enable cities to provide its people with internet connectivity and access to a broad range of citywide services, thus making it a multiservice solution.
Enabling smart city concept to provide location specific services, real time offers, promotions and deals based on locations, etc. operators are turning to advertising as a new revenue stream, partnering with OTT and social media, reconciling with other service providers for network sharing. With this operators are gradually trying to increase the overall socio-economic growth opportunities for masses by serving them with the amenity of anytime-anywhere connectivity.
Wi-Fi Unleashing New Opportunities
With Wi-Fi, operators are trying to expand their horizon and tap new opportunities and enhance their reach while delivering a seamless and high quality user experience. With an ever increasing appetite for data consumption, today’s smartphone users are well aware of the advantages of utilizing the Wi-Fi networks around their ecosystems. Most of the latest smartphones are now increasingly becoming ‘Wi-Fi aware’ and guide the devices towards better Wi-Fi coverage automatically. In this scenario, Wi-Fi calling holds great potential for users to utilize Wi-Fi in terms of making voice calls, while at the same time remain incredibly cost effective for their pockets.
Owing to its advantages as a cost effective and yet extremely powerful technology, Wi-Fi is fast gaining momentum in the telecoms space, however, regardless of popularity, the use of Wi-Fi is limited as subscribers need to discover, select and access each hotspot.
Operators are trying to address this by transforming the Wi-Fi experience, adding the mobility features of cellular networks, including automatic authentication and connection, seamless handover, automatic roaming and security. Moving forward, Wi-Fi is surely set to enable more opportunities for the operators as well as end customers.