So how did Wi-Fi become so important to the operators? To fully understand this we should first examine exactly what a carrier class Wi-Fi network is comprised of and what it can deliver for the operators.
Improved data network coverage
Making sure that users can pick up a strong signal from anywhere in the coverage area – that’s the epitome of what it means to be carrier class. Carrier class Wi-Fi offers cutting-edge technology like adaptive antennas embedded in access points to guarantee the strongest possible signal whilst minimising radio frequency (RF) interference.
Ensuring that subscribers remain connected is an integral part of what carrier class Wi-Fi can help deliver. This has traditionally required user intervention, but Hotspot 2.0 Release 2 empowers operators to automate the manual process of getting people connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot. This enables users to seamlessly ‘roam’ on and between Wi-Fi hotspots. Hotspot 2.0 achieves this through a revolutionary overhaul of the Wi-Fi connection procedure, automating the manual configuration and decision-making process as well as ensuring a secure, reliable connection.
Finally, carrier class Wi-Fi networks must be able to scale to hundreds of thousands of access points, if required, mirroring the scale of existing cellular networks. This requires a wireless LAN (WLAN) management platform that has the requisite scalability (e.g., capable of to managing up to 10,000 access points). Ideally, these platforms should be virtualised, making it possible to support almost unlimited scaling.
It’s clear these carrier class Wi-Fi features like massive scalability and virtualization (e.g., Network Functions Virtualization) are helping to drive adoption with operators.