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Mobile operators set to monetize WiFi, keen about 11ac

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Deepa
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BANGALORE, INDIA: The industry is keen to adopt 802.11ac standard once it becomes commercially available, anticipating that 30 per cent of their new WiFi access points will be based on 802.11ac by the end of 2014, finds market research firm Infonetics Research.

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"Best-effort WiFi is no longer good enough; mobile operators need carrier-class sophistication. Next-gen carrier WiFi has evolved to enable operators to deliver the same quality of experience as mobile networks through closer integration with the mobile RAN," notes Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave and carrier WiFi at Infonetics Research.

In a three-way tie, revenue generation, enhanced throughput and use of unlicensed spectrum are the top deployment drivers for carrier WiFi. The fastest-growing monetization models for WiFi services are tiered/premium hotspots, managed hotspots and WiFi roaming. Hotels, sports and entertainment venues, airports, train stations and retail malls will see significant growth as carrier WiFi deployment locations by 2014.

"Hotspot 2.0 will go a long way to building the bridge between the technologies from a technical standpoint, but operators are still figuring out how to position WiFi within their broadband offerings and which service models will generate the most revenue," Webb continues. "Offload of data traffic is not enough; WiFi's got to pay for itself."

Cisco is the most widely deployed WiFi equipment vendor among respondent carriers, while Ruckus Wireless leads the list of vendors under evaluation for future purchases, it adds.

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