This blog was provided to WBA by Carnegie Technologies.

This week we’re at the WBA Wireless Global Congress in Atlanta – rubbing shoulders with our industry peers from fixed and mobile carriers and enterprise wireless to discuss some of the most pressing issues and most exciting opportunities our industry currently faces.

The key theme of the event is how Wi-Fi is coming of age – 2019 is the year that will see the start of Wi-Fi 6 rollouts. This latest standard evolution, technically known as IEEE 802.11ax, delivers faster, more efficient router performance while handling more simultaneous device connections. Meanwhile, this is also the year that 5G deployments will start with the GSMA predicting that 18 countries will have live 5G networks by the end of the year, with US, East Asian and European markets leading adoption.

These fixed and cellular technologies are often presented as parallel strategies for different service providers. However, the truth is that to be successful, all service providers can benefit from effectively combining the two. One of the key issues that we’ll be digging into this week is how various carriers are leveraging Wi-Fi as part of their strategies – driven by different requirements, objectives and constraints.

We’ve identified four key categories of service providers that are opting to move to harmonized, next generation networks that combine different access technologies and network types.

  1. Operators with no access to new LTE or 5G spectrum can leverage the flourishing Wi-Fi world to access greater bandwidth and provide a better service to customers with 5G-like performance as part of a blended network.
  2. Premium service providers who would like to expand their portfolio beyond their traditional businesses can take advantage of Wi-Fi to offer additional value with new services and can safely offload traffic to accommodate growing demand for mobile data, without disrupting their brand value.
  3. The Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) who want to keep up with the exponential consumer demand for mobile data and who want to minimize their reliance on third-party infrastructure owners. By making Wi-Fi a key part of their strategies they are able to deliver excellent experiences for more customers.
  4. Smaller operators that want to invest in 5G and beyond, but that lack the resources can leverage Wi-Fi to maximize the benefits of their agility –  allowing them to differentiate by creating exciting new mobile experiences for customers.

As connectivity experts, we closely track trends in Wi-Fi offload and user behaviors and it is clear that one size does not fit all in terms of the solutions the industry needs to effectively leverage Wi-Fi. And there’s also another inextricable link between cellular and Wi-Fi. A number of years ago, Wi-Fi networks often presented the most reliable way of consuming higher bandwidth content on a device. Now, the increasing cellular capabilities means that service providers can’t afford to offload their customers onto Wi-Fi networks that deliver inferior performance.

This week at the WBA Wireless Global Congress, we’re sharing how service providers can leverage Wi-Fi effectively to meet their different business objectives, while guaranteeing a targeted and excellent user experience for their customers.

Deploying our Connection Management capability as part of their existing apps, users’ mobile devices are given the intelligence to make better connection choices. By monitoring the reliability and performance of available networks, these devices can then navigate seamlessly to the networks that ensure that consumers can connect, engage and benefit fully from their mobile experience. The policy engine that drives these connection decisions can be fully customized, for example to set acceptable performance parameters by customer tier, or to be context aware (e.g. to avoid Wi-Fi while in a moving vehicle, or to always connect to networks at a user’s place of work).

The result is a tailored and seamless blending of cellular and Wi-Fi – that keeps customers satisfied and allows service providers to more effectively pursue their business objectives. So 2019 won’t just be the year of the next generation of wireless or 5G, it’ll be the year of blended network strategies.

To find out more about how Connection Management can help your company – come and visit us on the Marquis Level in the Marquis Foyer at the Wireless Global Congress. You can also hear more about the four categories of service providers and the opportunities that Wi-Fi presents each of them by attending the presentation and following panel discussion (starting Wednesday 22nd May at 2pm) where I will be on stage to share my views on Wi-Fi Evolution & Monetization – (Wi-FI 6) Creating business advantage for carriers and their customers.

See you in Atlanta!