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.
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement introduced new challenges to IT administrators, many of which are now being addressed by a variety of mobile device management (MDM) solutions on the market. But the general approach to MDM has neglected an important aspect of mobility, which is managing how devices connect to the corporate network over public, uncontrolled access points. The widespread availability of Wi-Fi hotspots, including the smartphone in your pocket, has sparked a “bring your own network” (BYON) trend with its own challenges that few organizations have even considered, much less resolved.
Faster device launches, reduced device install times and cross-platform compatibility are a few of the benefits mobile operators and device manufacturers can experience when incorporating the mobile broadband interface model on their devices. Microsoft has adopted the standard in all of their Windows 8 devices and although we are now seeing evidence of these benefits in the market, the industry has a long way to go.
I recently attended the Wi-Fi Global Congress, a conference in London put on by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA). The focus was promoting and enabling carrier-grade Wi-Fi that is secure, seamless, and interoperable between networks. It was clear from the conference program, and the large number of wireless service and equipment providers in attendance, that Wi-Fi remains a highly relevant, complementary extension to cellular networks and an important part of the mobile broadband experience. However, many challenges remain with Wi-Fi, including seamless handover between 3G/4G and Wi-Fi, subscriber management, policy enforcement, session mobility, and more.
Microsoft recently launched the popular Windows 8 Surface Pro tablet and also received positive reviews for the successful reinvention of the Windows 8 laptop. However, in its releases, Microsoft did not include embedded 3G or LTE technology into the device, and instead decided to manufacture these products as Wi-Fi-only. With many on-the-go mobile workers needing access beyond the local Starbucks or airport, a growing number of users are connecting their Wi-Fi-only devices to mobile broadband through their smartphones.