Mobile operators continue to be under incredible financial pressure. Revenue per minute of voice continues to decline while new over-the-top apps like Pinger and WhatsApp are eroding SMS revenues.
Meanwhile, mobile data usage is skyrocketing, but as many industry analysts point out, the revenue per megabit isn’t keeping up with the capital investments required to support the demand.
In short, demand is up while revenue is down. It sounds like the “Internet Economy” has struck the mobile industry.
In response, operators are aggressively moving into new technologies like LTE. The primary driver for moving to LTE is that, as a transport, it’s significantly less expensive than UMTS/HSPA.
What other ways can operators wring costs from the network?
It turns out that 50% or more of mobile data usage happens indoors, specifically at home and in the office. Of course, those locations are blanketed with Wi-Fi.
Today many subscribers are turning to Wi-Fi in the home to supplement their mobile data needs. Mobile operators are encouraging this behavior with price caps that force consumers to look for Wi-Fi to get their mobile data fix.
But in this capacity, Wi-Fi isn’t actually adding benefit to the mobile operator’s core network services other than to push subscribers off. Wi-Fi is still regarded as a dumping ground for mobile data that operators can’t monetize.
However, Wi-Fi can function as an extension to the macro radio access network, actually boosting the subscriber’s mobile coverage and adding capacity where subscribers need it most – indoors.
By delivering the same experience between LTE and Wi-Fi, mobile operators can embrace Wi-Fi as a new low-cost RAN, while deriving increased offload benefit and improved customer satisfaction through improved coverage.
Extending the core LTE voice and messaging applications (VoLTE) over Wi-Fi ensures subscribers get a consistent experience over Wi-Fi and LTE.
Rather than dragging Wi-Fi along to carry un-profitable web traffic, mobile operators can harness the technology to become the in-building radio access network – providing a better user experience, particularly indoors, at a lower cost than LTE.