Home Latin America 2012 Getting to a mobile Internet that really works

Getting to a mobile Internet that really works

by david.nunes
Selina Lo Issue:Latin America 2012
Article no.:6
Topic:Getting to a mobile Internet that really works
Author:Selina Lo
Organisation:Ruckus Wireless
PDF size:594KB

About author

Selina Lo is the president and chief executive officer at Ruckus Wireless. With over 20 years of experience in the networking and communications industries, Ms Lo is known for her ability to develop new markets, create innovative services for new technologies and capitalize on emerging trends. Profiled by Business Week, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Inc. and Wired Magazine, Ms Lo is widely-recognized as a leader
in the technology industry. Under Ms Lo’s leadership, Ruckus has been recognized by Gartner in 2011 as the fastest growing company within the top five worldwide WLAN companies. In 2010, the company was also named as the market leader by the DellOro Group within the carrier Wi-Fi market. In 2007, Ms Lo’s company was named in the Inc. 500 list of America’s Fast-Growing Privately-Held Companies (#26), and as Number One Fastest Growing Privately-Held Telecom Company and recognized as a technology pioneer by the World Economic Forum. In 2006, Ms Lo was named by Fast Company as one of their Fast 50. Light Reading honoured Ms Lo as the Private Industry Statesman of the Year, and both the Wireless Broadband Innovation Awards and the Stevie International Business Awards selected Ms Lo for individual achievements.

As a former Vice President in Nortel Networks’ Content Business Unit and Data Network Business Unit, Ms Lo is most known for creating and developing the market for content-based switching. Ms Lo joined Nortel in 2000 as part of its $7.8 billion acquisition of Alteon WebSystems. As Vice President of Marketing at Alteon, Ms Lo built an emerging startup company that executed one of the most successful multibillion dollar initial public offerings at its time with a revenue run rate of over $400 million. Prior to Alteon, Ms Lo was the Vice President of marketing at the Centillion, a Business Unit of Bay Networks. Co-founded by Ms Lo, Centillion was a networking startup that developed the first token ring switching system. The Company was purchased by Bay Networks in 1994. Ms Lo’s career also includes several management roles at leading network and computing companies including Network Equipment Technologies and Hewlett Packard.

Selina Lo holds a B.S. degree in Computer Science from UC Berkeley.

Article abstract

Dealing with mobile data tsunami, the small cell LTE combined with advanced Wi-Fi is a good solution that increases capacity cost effectively, mainly at congested indoors locations. This necessitates harmonized SIM based authentication and fast handover. However, to achieve what everyone wants – uninterrupted mobile Internet experience – Wi-Fi roaming is needed. The upcoming Hotspot 2.0 and 802.11u standards will provide automatic authentication based on SIM card or certificate (for non-SIM devices) and seamless transfer between Wi-Fi and cellular. This can open up a wholesale market with participating hospitality businesses, such as hotels, airports and public venues, offering their Wi-Fi as a wholesale commodity for roaming agreements.

Full Article

We’ve all witnessed the continuous performance degradation of mobile networks that’s been taking place since the first iPhone hit the market nearly five years ago. Since then, millions upon millions of those and other smartphone devices, and more recently iPads and tablets, have flooded networks with data, generated by the new digital life on the mobile Internet – surfing, shopping, sharing content, engaging on social networks, watching videos, and more.
In particular, mobile network operators in Latin America are seeing data traffic volumes and smartphone sales explode. IDC expects the Latin American region to break the 200 million-unit barrier in mobile phone shipments for the first time in 2012. Of these, one out of four will be smartphones. In addition, in 2012 mobile data spending is estimated to account for more than 30% of total mobile spending and will increase up to 50% by 2016.
All of this amounts to a huge problem – for both mobile operators trying to keep their subscribers connected, and for subscribers, whose poor experiences with 3G networks have left them frustrated and unhappy. In fact, in Brazil, the country’s telecommunications agency, Anatel, recently prohibited the three largest carriers from selling new lines until they improve the quality of their mobile service because of rising customer complaints.
Faced with static or declining Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) and rising infrastructure costs, operators in Latin America and around the world are not only looking for ways to expand their networks, but to do so in a way that gives them a significant pay-off on the mobile Internet. The number of devices and the amount of data they consume is increasing faster than operators can deploy new equipment and technology to support them.
Meanwhile, subscribers now expect access wherever they go, and they want to be able to get on a network – whether it’s cellular or Wi-Fi – without manual effort. Particularly in areas with a high density of users, like stadiums and public venues, transit stations, retail centres, and outdoor parks, operators need a quick-to-deploy and scalable solution that can be integrated into their mobile core.
4G has got the lion’s share of attention as the answer to the mobile data tsunami, but solely investing in new 4G (LTE) technology will cripple operator finances. According to research by Analysys Mason, if operators simply try to meet the growing demand for data traffic by deploying more base stations, radio access network costs could rise to US$40 billion per year by 2016 – compared to US$5 billion per year in 2011. A better, more cost-effective, and faster-to-deploy approach is to deploy a small cell network configuration that combines Wi-Fi and LTE.
Operators, however, have been historically reluctant to adopt Wi-Fi because of what they believe is its inherent instability within the shared unlicensed spectrum, preferring to focus on their own, very expensive and exclusive licensed spectrum. This is why to date operators have deployed disparate Wi-Fi hotspots that are relatively few in number and that operate autonomously from their mobile data services. While hotspots in larger numbers have been proven effective for offloading a significant share of data from cellular networks, operators lose visibility of subscribers and are unable to provide value-added services that boost ARPU.
Recent advances in Wi-Fi technology like 802.11n, adaptive antenna technology, and more advanced meshing capabilities have changed things. Additionally, with the Wi-Fi Alliance’s new Hotspot 2.0 and 802.11u standards in development, which enable automatic authentication and seamless roaming between Wi-Fi and cellular, operators now view Wi-Fi as a vital component of an integrated mobile data network. When fully integrated, Wi-Fi can perform data offload, and also be leveraged for traffic backhaul, wireless wholesale services and new high-speed data services, as well as to provide subscribers with uninterrupted data access across 3G, Wi-Fi and even 4G.
So the question becomes now: how do operators achieve this? How about making the subscriber experience seamless, so consumers can get on the network and stay connected, regardless of where they roam?
A small cell answer to a big problem
To deliver the requisite increase in capacity to deal with exploding mobile Internet bandwidth demand, a small cell approach will be the new standard. While still being tested in high-density scenarios around the world, the small cells approach is predicated on complementing the macro network infrastructure with lower-power, shorter-range equipment such as “smart” Wi-Fi access points with LTE small cells installed closer to subscribers, in dense deployments. With small cells comes limited range, which reduces the impact of interference while also increasing capacity. A single sector in a macro cell may offer comparable capacity to a Wi-Fi access point or a small cell, but coverage is spread over a larger area, which causes lower capacity density.
Aside from the capacity and performance benefits, the small cell framework also allows operators to offer Wi-Fi as a standard radio access technology with their existing mobile networks without any changes to their core network and service platforms. Efforts to fully integrate Wi-Fi have begun as operators migrate to this small cell network design, augmenting their existing macro architectures to deliver the best possible user experience in highly dense areas.
At a recent Qualcomm event in Sao Paolo, Brazil, the Qualcamm CEO Paul Jacobs noted that small antennas are essential to support mobile data growth, given the company’s forecasts that 3G phone population will increase by 180% between 2012 and 2016, from 61 million to 170 million. As Wi-Fi becomes a new mechanism for offloading traffic and improving mobile network performance, the issue now becomes how to actually get users off cellular and onto Wi-Fi in a seamless manner, when subscribers have moved outside the range of their own operator’s network.
It’s all about U
There are actually two considerations for getting subscribers onto Wi-Fi networks – one which applies to operators getting their own subscribers onto their own networks; and one for operators to address client roaming. For the purposes of this article, we discuss 802.11u and its impact on roaming, as current 3GPP standards already address how operators can get their own subscribers onto their own Wi-Fi.
For roaming subscribers to flock to Wi-Fi as operators intend, the process to connect and authenticate with Wi-Fi networks must be as easy and transparent to the end user as it is with today’s cellular networks. No subscriber wants to interrupt a data session over 3G or 4G, find an open Wi-Fi network, go through a lengthy manual registration process, then (hopefully) figure out how to pick up where he or she left off. This is where 802.11u comes in. Started as WLAN-3GPP interworking project in 2004 and approved by the IEEE in February 2011, 802.11u, and the larger Hotspot 2.0 initiative being developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is designed to alleviate this cumbersome fiddling — automating and speeding the subscriber login process by pushing these decisions into the network and the devices themselves.
802.11u – and Hotspot 2.0 – is a major step forward in making Wi-Fi a more versatile tool for wireless operators – in Latin America and around the globe – because it transforms the way users connect to Wi-Fi networks. By automating the authentication process, tying user identity to a SIM card or certificate (for non-SIM devices) and making it seamless for users, devices can easily shift over to Wi-Fi networks without the subscriber having to enter any credentials. This helps transfer the data traffic burden from cellular networks on to Wi-Fi networks while giving subscribers a better experience indoors and at crowded venues.
When 802.11u is present on both the Wi-Fi access point and the mobile device, the operator network can allow access based on the subscriber’s hotspot roaming agreements for external networks, or it can simply indicate that getting on the hotspot is possible. Additionally, the protocol allows the network to restrict access to emergency services when the need arises.
From the consumer perspective, 802.11u makes Wi-Fi roaming as easy as making a phone call. Instead of being presented with a long list of SSIDs (most of which may not be available to the subscriber), the individual would be presented with a list of available networks (meaning, they’re available to the subscriber), the services offered, and any restrictions or conditions under which the user could access them.
Beyond service providers, 802.11u can also provide big benefits to enterprises such as hotels, airports, and public venues that want to utilize their Wi-Fi infrastructures to offer wholesale capacity to carriers and make it easier for their guests to use their network to access subscribed services. Enterprises could effectively realize incremental revenue by doing this with very little investment – giving users more service options and giving carriers a bigger wireless footprint to deliver branded broadband services.
The small cell approach, combined with 802.11u and Hotspot 2.0, is a significant step forward in realizing the true promise of the mobile Internet. No longer will we experience the network bottlenecks we now encounter when trying to surf, shop, share content or engage with multimedia on a mobile device. Operators have a way to scale their architecture quickly and cost-effectively, while also delivering more revenue-generating services to subscribers and keeping control over how they stay connected. Finally, the use of Wi-Fi no longer requires finding an available hotspot and clumsy manual typing of credentials. With the ability to automatically connect, operators can finally deliver the uninterrupted mobile Internet experience that everyone wants.

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