Leaving the comforts of your own personal WI-FI feels like a real sacrifice. It’s challenging leaving the kind of communication paradise you have grown to expect in the home or by the hotel pool.
When I was in New York recently, I was waiting around for one of those fabulous helicopter tours over Manhattan to start, so I took my Skinny Latte and stepped into a local park to check my Facebook page. I was ready to treat myself, spending some money on Roaming Data. As I walked into the park, I noticed a sign: “This park offers free WI-FI”. “Wow”, I thought to myself, “in a park!” So I sat back on a bench and enjoyed a really good catch up with the world.
In Rome recently I also noticed a radical change in the way that the classic Italian tourist restaurant had taken advantage of this tourist need. Nearly every restaurant around the Spanish Steps or even in the backstreets off the Via del Corso had big signs next to their menus offering free WI-FI. It seems like free WI-FI is the new “Air conditioning”, providing a level of comfort that effectively is so in demand, so that it will attract customers to your business.
In Luxembourg the “Hot City” approach (while chargeable) offers on-street WI-FI, which means that stopping in the middle of the street to make a Skype or Facetime call saves me from using my Roaming Data or simply making GSM telephone calls.
In Spain the Tripneter product provides a handheld portable WIFI kit for travellers to carry around with them. Whether you’re wanting to post pictures of Sagrada Familia or tweet from La Pedrera, the product works for up to 5 users at a time. Its only downside is that it will take some organising before you travel, and on departure from Spain.
What is clear is that data users want and need to get a good level of service for Data. I myself use several apps on a daily basis, which are reliant upon the kind of data capacity that only LTE or WI-FI can support.
With the financial controller breathing down our necks, and the global LTE footprint only starting to emerge (even where an Operator supports LTE its worth checking what coverage there is outside of major cities), WI-FI seems the obvious global choice right now.
WI-FI Operators are also planning on an enticing array of new functionality towards WI-FI customers beyond what is offered today. They need to solve the quality and security risks for sure, but the marketing potential coming from the specific traceability of customer activity within a specific WI-FI zone is particularly interesting commercially for retailers.
The ability for a customer to stand in front of a product and have information sent to their device about the product comes from the ability to fine tune the network to understand a customer’s location. Clearly this is not yet achieved in the GSM domain and provides further appeal for customers in need of relevant information, much like they can get from companies who exploit recommendations for products on the web, based on their behavior.
For the low data user, what’s always stood in the way of their using more WI-FI has been the absence of easy handover. I need to get the password and logon to sporadically different WI-FI online forms just to get hold of a little data. However, with trials occurring in the Industry right now for seamless handover between GSM Networks and local WI-FI data, even this issue might soon be solved.
Industry discussions regarding seamless handover between GSM and WI-FI technology is attractive to WI-FI operators, since they can easily attract GSM customers to their networks through automatic handover, where passwords are no longer required. From a billing perspective, WI-FI “traffic” can become billable within a single customer bill and therefore easily part of flat rated Roaming bundles. After all, let’s face it, FWFS (Free Wi-Fi Stalking) is mainly going to be about cost at the end of the day, coming from years of inefficient and in-transparent billing practices. What feels super-comfortable is the feeling of connecting with the world without ever needing to reach for the Debit Card.
On balance, we think that seamless GSM to WI-FI is a good step and keeps GSM Operators in the value zone. More and more GSM Operators believe that the dominance of WI-FI for data offload is not at all a bad thing towards their overall network operating costs.
If GSM operators can convince their customers that FWFS is more fuss than benefit, and does not offer a considerable cost reduction, then GSM operators are likely to win more customers back to GSM when the customers drops out of the WI-FI zone.
While WIFI seems to become more and more relevant every day, with some good planning and WI-FI Roaming agreements, GSM Operators can actually start to understand better some of their customer’s behavior towards data usage in general as well as the WIFI revolution.
ROCCO’s Consultants offer Strategic, commercial and operational support towards Operators and WIFI Roaming Operators finding their feet in the light of WIFI Roaming.
Whether you need us to help you build your own WIFI Roaming Operator, or simply deliver WIFI Roaming, your endeavours are Rocco endeavours. Grow Roaming, Consult ROCCO.