Installed base of Wi-Fi devices grew to nearly 7 billion in 2016, driven largely by increasing smartphone adoption. Higher throughput, interoperable and backward compatible industry standards (from IEEE and backed by the Wi-Fi Alliance), other performance improvements as well as technical capabilities for operators including Passpoint and voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi), have helped drive this. Homespots and low cost hotspot deployment have increased the total number Wi-Fi areas (hotspots + homespots) from less than 30 million in 2013 to 85 million in 2016, with expectations of 113 million for 2018.
Customer retention and acquisition is the most pervasive and is relevant from mobile only through integrated and fixed only operators, with the potential to reduce ~20% of revenues which are typically spent on retaining and acquiring subscribers.
Wi-Fi calling or VoWi-Fi is very attractive for mobile only (and mobile mostly) operators, providing multiple benefits in addition to boosting indoor coverage, including countering OTT providers, leveraging IMS and VoLTE investments and supporting 2G and 3G spectrum liberation. VoWi-Fi is also fundamental to Wi-Fi first MVNOs and is an attractive option for fixed-mobile operators.
Wi-Fi offloading provides strong opportunities for fixed-mobile operators in particular to reduce costs and is fundamental to the fixed-MVNO operator business case. For predominantly mobile networks offloading can justify Wi-Fi network investment, particularly where there are constraints in providing cellular capacity/coverage but costs have to be minimized.
The report "Wi-Fi Business Models: Best Practices and Disruptive Trends", provides an examination of Wi-Fi business models worldwide through insightful case studies of eighteen (18) Wi-Fi service providers including mobile network operators as well as MVNOs and Internet companies. The report identifies best practices for Wi-Fi network options and monetization and describes the five key business models for Wi-Fi and their fit by operator type.
Key findings of the report include:
- Wi-Fi supports multiple business models for operators. There are five broad Wi-Fi business models available to network operators which can and should be used in combination (they are not mutually exclusive), though not all are relevant to all operator types. Integrated (fixed-mobile) and fixed-MVNO operators can benefit from all the different business models available while mobile first operators are more limited.
- The investment and operational costs of Wi-Fi must be kept low because the revenue upside is limited. There are multiple partnership opportunities which can help to keep costs down including joint ventures, roaming, wholesale, OTT providers, Wi-Fi specialists, venue owners, advertisers, payment providers etc.
- Wi-Fi network revenue upside must be maximized and thus sold across the organization from the consumer and business facing departments to advertising/media and wholesale divisions.
- The report provides a comprehensive examination of operator business models in the global market to help executives fully understand market dynamics, determine what works and what doesn’t, formulate effective product development plans and optimize resource allocation and return on investments.
- Each business model is analyzed to highlight notable approaches as well as how different types of operators, whether fixed only, fixed-mobile or mobile only are leveraging the technology to suit their particular context.
- Eighteen case studies illustrate the findings of the report, providing insights into particular situations in varied markets; this will help the reader understand both the challenges confronted in the real world and the strategies employed to overcome those challenges.
- The report highlights innovative and progressive approaches from operators around the world, including both developed and developing regions.
- The report discusses concrete opportunities for Wi-Fi, providing a number of actionable recommendations for operators and vendors.
Section 1: Case Studies
China Mobile, China
Google Project Fi, US
Internet Solutions, South Africa
KT, South Korea
Republic Wireless, US
Virgin Media, UK
Key Findings and Recommendations
Acronyms and definitions
About the authors
List of Exhibits
Exhibit 1: Airtel India overview
Exhibit 2: Airtel quarterly ARPU and data consumption/user
Exhibit 3: Facebook Express Wi-Fi and Google Station
Exhibit 4: AT&T overview
Exhibit 5: AT&T powers McDonalds’ Wi-Fi
Exhibit 6: LAA aggregation
Exhibit 7: BT (and EE) overview
Exhibit 8: BT Digital Kiosk, Inlink
Exhibit 9: EE 4G subscriptions and as a percentage of total, 2012-2017
Exhibit 10: China Mobile overview
Exhibit 11: Number of Wi-Fi hotspots, 2012-2017
Exhibit 12: Percentage of wireless traffic and revenue Wi-Fi, 2012-2016
Exhibit 13: Comcast overview
Exhibit 14: Comcast customers, YE 2016
Exhibit 15: Comcast Wi-Fi hotspot network 2014-2017
Exhibit 16: Free France overview
Exhibit 17: Free Mobile market share 2011-2016
Exhibit 18: FreedomPop overview
Exhibit 19: FreedomPop Wi-Fi coverage
Exhibit 20: Comparison of Project Fi and MNOs
Exhibit 21: Internet Solutions overview
Exhibit 22: Alwayson airtime converter
Exhibit 23: Data pricing comparison by volume in South Africa
Exhibit 24: KDDI overview
Exhibit 25: KDDI subscriptions by type, March 2017
Exhibit 26: Percentage of mobile data offloaded onto Wi-Fi, 2012-2016
Exhibit 27: KDDI overview
Exhibit 28: KT Giga LTE architecture
Exhibit 29: Korea Telecom network evolution from 4G to 5G
Exhibit 30: O2 UK overview
Exhibit 31: O2 Wi-Fi services
Exhibit 32: O2 Wi-Fi partners
Exhibit 33: Oi Brazil overview
Exhibit 34: Oi - Fon Wi-Fi partnership
Exhibit 35: Oi Wi-Fi propositions and benefits
Exhibit 36: Proximus Belgium overview
Exhibit 37: Proximus churn rates by bundle, Q3 2017
Exhibit 38: Proximus consumer subscriptions breakdown
Exhibit 39: Republic Wireless overview
Exhibit 40: Republic Wireless plans and smartphones
Exhibit 41: Sprint overview
Exhibit 42: Sprint free Wi-Fi calling
Exhibit 43: Sprint Wi-Fi first MVNOs
Exhibit 44: T-Mobile overview
Exhibit 45: T-Mobile Personal Cellspot
Exhibit 46: Portion of calls over VoLTE, Q3 2015 - Q3 2017
Exhibit 47: Comcast overview
Exhibit 48: Virgin Wi-Fi
Exhibit 49: Virgin Media managed & wholesale Wi-Fi
Exhibit 50: Network assets and approaches by selected Wi-Fi providers (I)
Exhibit 51: Network assets and approaches by selected Wi-Fi providers (II)
Exhibit 52: Business models of selected Wi-Fi providers (I)
Exhibit 53: Business models of selected Wi-Fi providers (II)