Wi-Fi: going wild and disappearing

Written by on August 15, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Sewing threadThe Whole Sort of General Mish Mash of Things is emerging. It seemed for some time as if there would be a weird sort of battle between competing access technologies. There is Wi-Fi and 2G and 3G, 4G and 5G. Who knows, it is highly likely, knowing us, that no sooner has 5G landed but 6G and 7G will be the next plaything in the labs.

Wi-Fi is certainly the hot topic at the moment, and carriers and operators are talking to Wi-Fi providers like never before. Boingo, one such, has signed an agreement with Sprint and has never been busier. It is ‘awesome’ according to Boingo’s CEO. And pretty exciting for his bonus structure too.

Wi-Fi, until 5G arrives, takes its coat off and sits down at the table, is the offload technology of choice. Sprint’s deal with Boingo means that Sprint’s customers are seamlessly offloaded (if that is the politically correct expression) onto Boingo’s Wi-Fi networks in airports.

Boingo has been busy in Europe as well. Deutsche Telekom is using the Boingo partnership to package a product called ‘Business WiFi,’ which, as you might expect, allows DT’s business customers to seamlessly use Boingo’s network.

While the technologies might – ultimately – mesh seamlessly (and we have stopped scratching our heads as to why so much investment in 5G when Wi-Fi is lying around sunning itself) companies will not.

Recently Wi-Fi is finding its way into airplanes, so that our managing editor can tweet our amazing scoops and stories as he criss-crosses the globe. It is also finding its way into other interesting places (and curiously being throttled in the traditional coffee shop venue) such as bus shelters.

All of this is good news for us, the customers. But it surely means that the revenue, thin as it already is, will be thinned some more. Who, in the case of the bus shelter, is the service provider? Is it Boingo (other Wi-Fi networks are available), is it the bus shelter owner? It seems, even in the case of Wi-Fi, the business models need working through. Presumably, also, bus shelter Wi-Fi can be free to the customer and paid for by the customer gazing at the advertisement on the side of said bus shelter. Or it might be funded by adverts within the free bus timetable app that customers download having gazed at an advert for the free app on the side of the bus shelter.

Technologies might well mesh, companies will mesh less easily. And with carriers involved, the negotiations and business models will be interesting.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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