Cisco Asks Mobile Operators to Offload Mobile Data to WiFi and Save Millions

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cisco wifi mobile data offloadAt Cisco Connect Kenya today, Cisco Consulting Services (CCS) discussed some of the market transitions in the East African Service Provider (SP) marketplace and how Cisco is working with its SP customers to help them engage these transitions. The discussion focussed around the whole ‘mobility’ experience – anytime, anywhere and on any device – in particular delivering a view of how offload to Wi-Fi will provide the viable, most cost effective alternative for mobile operators in East Africa to complement 3G, LTE and HSPA networks.

Wi-Fi Offload, a Cost Effective Alternative to Complement 3G, LTE and HSPA Networks.

The world is going mobile, and East Africa is no exception. According to the Cisco® Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2012 to 2017, in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), there will be 849,226,090 mobile users in 2017. The expected steady increase in mobile traffic is partly due to continued strong growth in the number of mobile Internet connections (personal devices and machine-to-machine applications), which will exceed the world’s population (United Nations estimates 7.6 billion) by 2017.

According to CCS studies, this growth threatens to overload the capacity of regional mobile operators, who may be struggling to ensure availability of high-speed packet access (HSPA) and long-term evolution (LTE) spectrum.  Wi-Fi could hold the solution, transforming wireless Internet access by offering higher speeds, improved security, and more availability on almost any connected device.

Globally, mobile operators are expected to drive Wi-Fi growth through accelerated technology adoption. Because of this, service providers must consider Wi-Fi a key pillar of their broadband strategies to increase revenues and decrease costs. CCS outlines the four business models that will help operators in East Africa provide Wi-Fi to achieve maximum results:

  1. Direct Wi-Fi service to end users
  2. Indirect Wi-Fi service through third parties
  3. Wholesale Wi-Fi services to other mobile operators
  4. Mobile data offload.

Mobile Data Offload Projected to Help Save Millions:

CCS studies highlight that ‘Mobile data offload’ will enable mobile operators to maximize the benefits of Wi-Fi through cost savings, revenue generation and improved services. It is a viable alternative for serving mobile broadband users in crowded locations such as shopping malls, where spectrum availability for HSPA and LTE mobile access networks is limited. In addition, mobile data offload will give operators the opportunity to reduce data costs, allowing them to accelerate adoption and increase market share.

Mobile Data Offload will have a great impact on the following:

  1. Massively growing demand: In Middle East and Africa, mobile data traffic will grow 17-fold from 2012 to 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 77%. Mobile data traffic will reach 861,298 Terabytes (0.86 Exabytes) per month in 2017, the equivalent of 215 million DVDs each month or 2,374 million text messages each second.
  2. Additional investment required to provide Wi-Fi coverage: Careful selection of indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi locations will help operators maximize the use of mobile data traffic offload. Costs will be lower if mobile data traffic offload rates are reduced.
  3. Exponential Growth in Business and Consumer Mobile traffic: In Middle East and Africa, consumer mobile traffic will grow 19-fold from 2012 to 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 80% and business mobile traffic will grow 11-fold from 2012 to 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 60%.

According to Senior Manager Cisco Consulting for Middle East and Africa, “Mobile operators need to embrace Wi-Fi to complement and reduce the load on the high-speed packet access (HSPA) and long-term evolution (LTE) spectrum.  Our studies prove that ‘Mobile data offload’ will enable mobile operators to maximize the benefits of Wi-Fi resulting in cost savings. From a revenue perspective, operators are poised to gain revenue from connectivity, churn reduction and most importantly data analytics and value added services based on the unique capabilities (e.g. Location Based Services) of Cisco’s Wi-Fi technology. Overall, mobile operator CXOs must consider Wi-Fi technology as a new business model to return value to their shareholders.”

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