Wi-Fi hasn’t started as a carrier related specification. But it is getting there one step at a time.
I have a love hate relationship with Wi-Fi.
On one hand, WiFi is crap, but on the other hand, it really is great when it works. It is also why I am so interested in knowing who will end up as my WiFi provider – I need a throat to choke when things don’t work.
Mobile network operators (MNO) are getting there – one of the latest Wi-Fi specifications (802.11u) deals with having Wi-Fi managed seamlessly as part of the MNO’s network. This is also known as HotSpot 2.0. Once that happens, things will be simpler for all – we already have a subscription relationship with our MNO – it will simply include Wi-Fi as part of the contract – no need to mess around with phone connectivity to Wi-Fi any longer.
Hopefully, it will happen.
There are reasons why this make sense – most of them relates to price structures of the operator himself. GigaOm recently listed their 15 leading companies in mobile. This list is very interesting. In the domain of Wi-Fi, you can find Free in there – the French carrier that changed the face of the market there. Here’s a quote from that piece:
Such pricing structures would be unsustainable for any carrier, but with the help of Wi-Fi, Iliad is hoping to drastically reduce the cost of delivering mobile data. The ISP has turned its broadband customers modems into Wi-Fi access points accessible by any device on Free’s network. The result is a community hotspot network with 4 million nodes throughout France.
Free used their existing wireline network to create a wireless network based on Wi-Fi and fill in its gaps with cellular by being an MVNO – and then spreading their own network where it made sense in terms of cost reduction.
Wi-Fi is going to be part of the MNO’s menu of network access technologies. It is also going to be the beginning of the buzzword: HetNet