White Paper Excerpt
WiFi Offloading Why-Chapter 5

Wi-Fi Offloading, Why? – Chapter 5

How To Get a Wi-Fi Network Footprint for Wi-Fi Offloading

The vast majority of data communications happen indoors. However, regulators worldwide generally only impose outdoor coverage obligations on mobile operators. According to crowd-sourced data, 33% of UK buildings have no cellular indoor coverage for 50% of the space.

At the same time, many publicly available Wi-Fi networks deliver great user experiences but are
underutilized because the onboarding of users is cumbersome.

As discussed, Wi-Fi technology is more ready than ever to deliver a carrier-class user experience; more has happened to that end in the last few years than in the previous decade.

White Paper: Wi-Fi Offloading – Why?

This is an excerpt from our white paper, Wi-Fi Offloading – Why? The full white paper is available here if you like what you read. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Wi-Fi Offloading - Why? White Papåer download

So, how do you, as a mobile operator, create a Wi-Fi footprint for the purpose of offloading?

It can be created in several ways, as we will discuss below.

How to build a WiFi footprint for WiFi offloading


As such, the methods are independent and are often used in combination. Today, the Enea Aptilo Service Management Platform (SMP) serves operator customers using several methods
concurrently to build a Wi-Fi footprint.

Operators can use this footprint and add a secure Wi-Fi connection (SSID) for their subscribers. This enables operators to monetize indirectly by offloading subscribers securely and seamlessly
to Wi-Fi and boosting indoor coverage while getting additional capacity.

B2C or Managed B2B Guest Wi-Fi

In this case, the operator owns and manages everything, including the on-premise Wi-Fi infrastructure, gateways, and related services. They can deploy Wi-Fi networks at strategic venues to deliver Business-to-Consumer (B2C) Wi-Fi services with Wi-Fi Offloading. An example of a B2C Wi-Fi network of this type is Telkom Indonesia, a giant telco operating some 400,000 Wi-Fi access points serving more than 70 million users. Telkom Indonesia has been using Enea Aptilo SMP for ten years and counting.

A managed B2B Guest Wi-Fi service is the only indoor coverage solution that operators can use to generate revenue. Good examples of effective operator-managed B2B Wi-Fi service offerings include the B2B Wi-Fi services of our clients NOS Portugal and Swisscom.

For the most part, managed B2B services provide excellent, high-margin revenues where mobile operators can add their own secure Wi-Fi SSID (802.1x) for Wi-Fi Offloading. Mobile operators can also offer competitive pricing by subsidizing B2B Wi-Fi at venues that are important for Wi-Fi Offloading.

B2B Cloud Guest Wi-Fi

Here, the operator provides cloud-based Softwareas-a-Service (SaaS) Wi-Fi service management to operate a B2B customer’s Guest Wi-Fi service. At the same time, the B2B customer owns and
retains their Wi-Fi access infrastructure.

This approach is required when operators want to extend their footprint and business scope simply because many venues and enterprises already own and operate a Wi-Fi network. In this case, the operator can ask the venue to add a secure Wi-Fi SSID (802.1x) for Wi-Fi Offloading as part of the Guest Wi-Fi service deal.

Conversely, in some cases, our clients have acquired the Wi-Fi network equipment belonging to specific important customers and locations to convert the service to a fully operator managed B2B Wi-Fi.

Community Wi-Fi (Homespot)

Homespots or community Wi-Fi means that Wi-Fi-capable residential gateways (terminating fiber, DSL, or cable connections in the home) are configured to double up as public Wi-Fi hotspots in addition to fulfilling their primary role of delivering residential Wi-Fi services. Such schemes require the operator to ensure the residential user is prioritized to get the service they have paid for. The excess capacity allows the operator to build a substantial public Wi-Fi hotspot network spanning perhaps millions of locations overnight.

After mergers and acquisitions in the telecom industry, there are still operators that are not utilizing this potential, having the mobile and broadband operations acting as separate silos.

The Homespot concept is ideal for broadband providers that are also MVNOs. There is a massive gain in having as little traffic as possible on the cellular network. Spectrum Mobile—the MVNO services arm of US cableco Charter Communications—uses this scheme to keep its subscribers connected on Charter-owned homespots as much as possible.

Third-Party Wi-Fi Services and OpenRoaming

Operators can also partner with third-party Wi-Fi networks to provide connectivity for international travel or at specific domestic locations. Mobile operators can do Wi-Fi Offloading without deploying a single Wi-Fi Access Point. Enea’s customer Three UK is an excellent example, providing Wi-Fi services in the London Underground using a third-party network.

The OpenRoaming initiative within the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) will further facilitate using third-party Wi-Fi networks. The vision is to make global Wi-Fi roaming as seamless and secure as cellular roaming. There are already (April 2024) more than 3 million Wi-Fi hotspots and growing enabled in the OpenRoaming federation. OpenRoaming may become the ‘silver bullet for neutral host Wi-Fi Offloading.’

Take a shopping mall as an example of a neutral host operating as an ANP in OpenRoaming.


OpenRoaming neutral host for Wi-Fi Offloading

They can make bilateral commercial agreements with multiple mobile operators acting as IDPs. When the users come within range of the Wi-Fi network at the shopping mall, they will be automatically and securely onboarded to the OpenRoaming service through SIM authentication with their mobile operator.

The shopping mall can even prioritize the mobile operators’ subscribers over other users if they comply with the advertised QoS level for all other users. This will make it possible for the shopping mall to charge more for the offloaded users.

It is not a problem that the user may have multiple installed OpenRoaming profiles on the device, such as one from the mobile operator and one from the device
manufacturer. The shopping mall can utilize the Home Service Provider preference functionality defined in Passpoint to prioritize the mobile operators over other IDPs.

Open may sound scary, as in “uncontrolled,” but you can fully control the characteristics of your roaming partners. For instance, you may choose to only roam with Wi-Fi networks that deliver a specific quality of service (QoS) level.

Mobile operators planning to deploy Wi-Fi Offloading on their own Wi-Fi footprint should consider doing so through OpenRoaming, even if they initially only allow OpenRoaming Wi-Fi access to their own subscribers. By deploying a SIM and Passpoint-based OpenRoaming profile on all devices, subscribers will enjoy automatic and secure onboarding to the operator’s Wi-Fi network and others in the OpenRoaming federation, filling their criteria for being a good Wi-Fi network.

Download our All You Need to Know about OpenRoaming white paper to learn more.

Industry update Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Solutions for mobile / Wi-Fi convergence

As the mobile industry enters a new and much less profitable era, Wi-Fi is growing in importance as an effective, cost-efficient, and necessary complementary solution.

Join this online Wi-Fi Now special event with Cisco, American Bandwidth, and Enea, where we explore all the current convergence offerings and their status.

When: Online Tuesday, July 23 @ 7:00 pm CEST / 10:00 am PDT

Duration: Approximately 1.5 hours including presentations, panel Q&A, and audience Q&A.

Wi-Fi Now spåecial event Mobile/Wi-Fi Convergence soluitions

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