Mobile and cablecos vye to use WiFi most effectively
The more ubiquitous and carrier-class public WiFi becomes, the more the battle heats up between mobile operators and their non-cellular challengers, to see which can harness WiFi more effectively.
For the MNOs, intelligent balancing of traffic between the two technologies is important to cost of delivery and to quality of experience. Vodafone Germany is working with Cisco to pilot a system which should automate those decisions with intelligent network selection. It has tested the offering in three cities, using the Cisco Policy Suite and a client-side application to support seamless login, and always best connected choices, based on either carrier or consumer preferences.
On the other side of the competitive coin, cable operator Liberty Global is to deploy software from Devicescape – which crowdsources, aggregates and curates free WiFi hotspots to deliver a virtual network to service providers – across its European footprint. Liberty has been an aggressive deployer of WiFi-first services in some markets, such as The Netherlands, but has also been investing in cellular operations (buying Base in Belgium and combining its assets with Vodafone’s in Holland).
Of the Devicescape deal, Graeme Oxby, MD of European mobile operations at Liberty, said: “WiFi is essential to our mobile strategy, boosting coverage and capacity – particularly indoors – while driving economic efficiencies which we can pass on to our customers. By combining WiFi and cellular as we are able to with the Devicescape solution, we are also delivering a significant improvement to the customer experience.”
The pan-regional agreement builds on an existing implementation of the Devicescape solution by Virgin Media, Liberty Global’s UK operation, announced in February 2014.
Devicescape CEO Dave Fraser said in a statement: “This is the first top tier deployment of a service that truly integrates cellular with the huge resource of free, intentionally shared public WiFi. It illustrates how insatiable consumer demand is driving development of new service models which are changing the nature of connectivity service provision.”
“The writing’s on the wall here for European incumbents. Challengers large and small are all starting to embrace WiFi as a key strategy enabler, and the competitive impact goes beyond wireless,” commented Emma Mohr-McClune, service director at Current Analysis. “In this case, Liberty Global will be leveraging Devicescape’s solution to enhance quad play value and differentiation, across multiple markets.”