By Dennis Jones
After years of innovation and growth, Wi-Fi has never been bigger, better or more global, emerging as a major player in mobile voice and data. So much so that there are a host of Wi-Fi first services that rely primarily on Wi-Fi and only use cellular to fill in the gaps when Wi-Fi isn’t available.
Cellular MVNOs, however, rose to prominence as disruptive agents in the cellular market. By tapping into widespread frustration with big carriers, cellular MVNOs, which resell access to cellular networks, became a significant market force, offering innovative services at discounted rates. But the crowding of cellular networks has caused major issues for MVNOs, from lack of bandwidth, high costs and lower quality of service.
In this regard, the benefits of global Wi-Fi to bandwidth-strapped cellular MVNOs have never been greater. Here are three reasons why MVNOs need global Wi-Fi.
- Recover spectrum. MVNOs don’t own their networks. They have to buy access to cellular networks from MNOs (Mobile Network Operators), which is expensive. Offloading data to Wi-Fi, which already handles the bulk of mobile data, reduces the amount of bandwidth that MVNOs need to purchase from network operators. Offloading also decongests the network, leading to faster connection speeds and better app functionality.
- Reduce costs for roamers. Given their size, MVNOs have little bargaining power over MNOs. Offloading to Wi-Fi, therefore, allows MVNOs to reduce costs, given the substantially lower, per unit cost of Wi-Fi. Lower costs come in handy when buying wholesale roaming access for subscribers who roam on visiting networks. Since MVNOs don’t host roamers, they can’t recoup those lost costs. And they risk alienating price-conscious subscribers by raising rates. MVNOs can only enhance their network offering with a less expensive, global Wi-Fi footprint, on which users can roam as seamlessly as they do on cellular networks.
- Improves connectivity experience. A few big phenomena are converging to make this possible. First off, Wi-Fi accessibility is improving dramatically. The number of Wi-Fi hotspots has grown tremendously, making ubiquity a possibility. Additionally, Wi-Fi standards, like Passpoint™, are delivering authentication, security and roaming capabilities for end users that are cellular-like. Similarly, our very own global Wi-Fi service platform, iPass SmartConnect, leverages crowdsourcing and machine learning technologies to enable a seamless and secure roaming experience for end users.
Innovative MVNOs are waking up to the fact that global Wi-Fi is a necessary ally in the battle for market share against big carriers. Expanding the cellular MVNO offering to include a global Wi-Fi footprint ensures lower costs for MVNOs and subscribers and an improved mobile experience.