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Offloading mobile data to Wi-Fi could save millions, improve service

Over 200 PSVs in Nairobi will provide the free wifi service by Sept 2013. Photo/ MIKE KARIUKI

Over 200 PSVs in Nairobi will provide the free wifi service by Sept 2013. Photo/File

Offloading mobile data traffic to Wi-Fi could help mobile phone operators in the region to save millions of shillings, Cisco Consulting Services (CCS) has said.

Wi-Fi offload will provide a viable, most cost effective alternative for mobile operators in East Africa to complement 3G, Long Term Evolution (LTE) and HSPA networks.

Senior Manager Cisco Consulting Services for Middle East and Africa Irfan Verjee said that Mobile data offload will enable mobile operators to maximize the benefits of Wi-Fi through cost savings, revenue generation and improved services.

“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,” Verjee said.

He noted that the offload was 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 would give operators the opportunity to reduce data costs, allowing them to accelerate adoption and increase market share.

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.

“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,” he said.

The study indicates that the 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.  Verjee said Wi-Fi could hold the solution, transforming wireless Internet access by offering higher speeds, improved security, and more availability on almost any connected device.

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