Wi-Fi® takes center stage as capacity expansion solution for operator networks

Independent research: Wi-Fi delivers the same capacity for half the operators’ Total Cost of Ownership compared to LTE

Austin, Texas, May 21, 2013 – Wi-Fi has emerged as a cost-effective solution for operators who face serious capacity problems on their mobile networks.  Small cells have come into sharp focus as operators contend with data traffic growth exceeding 60 percent annually and particularly difficult coverage challenges in dense environments.

Independent research released this week analyzes small-cell economics and confirms that when examined on CAPEX, OPEX, and per-bit capacity, Wi-Fi nodes are compelling as compared with both 3G and 4G nodes.

The economic model and results are detailed in “Carrier Wi-Fi for Mobile Operators: A TCO Model Assessing the Cost Benefits to Wi-Fi and Cellular Small-Cell Joint Deployments,” developed by Senza Fili Consulting and commissioned by Wi-Fi Alliance®.  The model takes a long-term view of per-bit Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G small cell technologies.  Among the findings:

  • Per-bit TCO for Wi-Fi is about half of LTE and ten per cent of 3G small cells
  • Comparison against even the most advanced licensed small cells does not change the picture:  Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ n and newest-generation Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac, entering the market this year, outperform LTE and LTE-A on per-bit TCO
  • Operators need not choose either 3G/4G or Wi-Fi.  When a combined Wi-Fi/cellular solution is deployed in a single location, per-bit TCO is dramatically reduced

“Given their performance, capacity and cost-effectiveness, Wi-Fi small cells are a compelling element of a variety of coverage strategies and operator business models,” said Monica Paolini, President of Senza Fili Consulting. “Operators can deploy Wi-Fi and licensed small-cell solutions in separate environments, together on the same nodes, or investing exclusively in Wi-Fi small cells ahead of 4G maturity.”

The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™ program, introduced last year, has created an industry standard that streamlines network access and eliminates the need for users to find and authenticate a network each time they connect.  The end result is a cellular-like experience for Wi-Fi, with devices having the ability to automatically connect and roam across multiple networks.  Since its introduction, more than 100 smartphones, tablets and access points have been certified.

“Operators have embraced Wi-Fi technology and are deploying it in a variety of ways,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance.  “Wi-Fi Alliance has introduced a range of solutions to meet operators’ needs, including Passpoint.  We are working across the industry to contribute to the development of end-to-end solutions for operator networks.”

Some mobile operators have implemented interim solutions to roaming, in order to extend Wi-Fi coverage to one another’s subscribers.  Meanwhile, the worldwide transition to industry-standard
Wi-Fi roaming is underway, with multi-operator trials on Passpoint-certified equipment taking place now.  Wi-Fi Alliance has collaborated with other industry groups to ensure the building blocks are in place to create a truly global Wi-Fi roaming experience.

For more information about the Passpoint certification program, operator Wi-Fi solutions, and subscriber demand for a differentiated mobile Wi-Fi experience, visit www.wi-fi.org/operators.


About Wi-Fi Alliance®
Wi-Fi Alliance® is a global non-profit industry association of hundreds of leading companies devoted to seamless connectivity. With technology development, market building, and regulatory programs, Wi-Fi Alliance has enabled widespread adoption of Wi-Fi® worldwide. The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED program was launched in March 2000. It provides a widely-recognized designation of interoperability and quality, and it helps to ensure that Wi-Fi-enabled products deliver the best user experience. Wi-Fi Alliance has certified more than 15,000 products, encouraging the expanded use of Wi-Fi products and services in new and established markets.

Wi-Fi®, Wi-Fi Alliance®, WMM®, Wi-Fi Protected Access® (WPA), the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED logo, the Wi-Fi logo, the Wi-Fi ZONE logo and the Wi-Fi Protected Setup logo are registered trademarks of Wi-Fi Alliance. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Protected Setup, Wi-Fi Multimedia, WPA2, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint, Passpoint, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast, Miracast, Wi-Fi ZONE and the Wi-Fi Alliance logo are trademarks of Wi-Fi Alliance. WiGig® is a registered trademark of the WiGig Alliance.

Media Contact:
Karl Stetson
Edelman for Wi-Fi Alliance