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Wi-Fi Business Models: Best Practices and Disruptive Trends

Wi-Fi Business Models: Best Practices and Disruptive Trends


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.
Reasons to buy
  • 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.

  • Executive summary
  • Case Studies
    • Airtel, India
    • AT&T, US
    • BT, UK
    • China Mobile, China
    • Comcast, US
    • Free, France
    • FreedomPop, US
    • Google Project Fi, US
    • Internet Solutions, South Africa
    • KDDI, Japan
    • KT, South Korea
    • O2, UK
    • Oi, Brazil
    • Proximus, Belgium
    • Republic Wireless, US
    • T-Mobile, US
    • Virgin Media, UK
  • Key Findings and Recommendations
    • Key findings
    • Recommendations
  • Appendix
    • Acronyms and definitions
    • Companies mentioned

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