According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, more than three billion Wi-Fi-enabled devices will ship in 2017 joining more than eight billion devices already in use. What does this mean for communication service providers? Getting Wi-Fi right has never been more critical. From winning the war for relevance inside and outside the home to combating subscriber churn in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace, Wi-Fi is paramount.
However, to maximize the business value of Wi-Fi and transform the service into a competitive differentiator, networks must be easy to find, access must be seamless and secure, and network quality must be good even during periods of high demand. Just as important, hotspots must be deployed in high traffic locations where subscribers regularly use mobile data. As emerging low latency, high-throughput use cases like Wi-Fi calling and AR/VR become mainstream, high performing, easy-to-use networks that are placed where people use mobile data often will become even more valuable.
To maximize the value of your Wi-Fi network and boost monetization/ROI, try these 5 strategies:
1) Use Data-driven Network Planning
Measure the amount of mobile data usage (either cellular or Wi-Fi) at specific locations and target high-traffic areas for future hotspot deployments. By targeting these locations, you can ensure that your hotspots will see high adoption rates, which will result in greater Wi-Fi ROI and subscriber relevance. In addition, avoiding low traffic areas when deploying hotspots can save millions in wasted costs across your entire footprint.
2) Implement Passive Enrollment
Once you’re connected, Wi-Fi is awesome… however, there’s nothing more frustrating to mobile consumers than struggling to connect to an “available” Wi-Fi network. Cable/MSOs with public Wi-Fi footprints can bypass the onboarding challenge entirely through passive enrollment (without credentials) of subscriber devices while they are on owned, in-home networks. Once a subscriber’s device has been enrolled passively, it will automatically and securely connect to any owned hotspot outside of the home by way of the validated certificate authority (CA) saved on the device. At-home registration without credentials is proven to increase service registration by up to 25%.
3) Automate Life-cycle Management of Credentials
The credentials provisioned during enrollment should be automatically managed through the subscription life-cycle by an on-device client (supported by a backend sever). The client assures that credentials are periodically refreshed and, if the customer churns out, removed from the device. If credentials are not removed, the device will keep pounding the network for access resulting in unnecessary network stress and potentially unwanted customer care calls.
4) Optimize QoS/QoE
While streamlining the user onboarding process is a huge step in the right direction in the journey toward Wi-Fi optimization, ensuring each user has the “right” connected experience on your network is just as important and maybe more challenging. Automatically connecting a subscriber to a “deadspot” or even a poorly performing AP is not congruent with a high Quality of Experience (QoE). To ensure each subscriber’s Wi-Fi QoE is high, a service provider must be able to prioritize mobile device connections based on network Quality of Service (QoS) thresholds. Leveraging this type of logic enables proactive avoidance of poor connections and helps service providers ensure each subscriber has an enjoyable Wi-Fi experience.
5) Improve Conversion Rate of “Guest” Users
The task of converting guest Wi-Fi users or day pass users into monthly subscribers is not easy. Today’s tech-savvy end user are well-acquainted with “freemium” services and are incredibly adept at exploiting these business models for free access. For guest Wi-Fi access, relying on user registration via email/password will not help solve this problem. The majority of users have “junk” email accounts that they will use for service registration, enabling them to gain guest Wi-Fi connectivity without any strings attached. To combat this, service providers should implement app-based Wi-Fi access to require guest and day pass users to download and register through an OTT app. With this strategy, service providers gain a footprint on new devices and can provide a better Wi-Fi experience (seamless access on return visits, etc.) to guest users through the app. In addition, a Wi-Fi app provides a channel to communicate the value of the service to guest users and promote conversion to pay-as-you-go packages.
What do you think? Have you already applied one or more of these strategies? Or are there other ways you can optimize Wi-Fi? We’d love to hear your thoughts. If you'd like to learn more about the Wi-Fi strategies discussed above, download our free whitepaper: Wi-Fi Credential Provisioning, Authentication and Management.