Carrier Wi-Fi investment turns to LTE-U and LWA

July 11, 2016 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
The latest report from Mobile Experts LLC provides detailed analysis of the Carrier Wi-Fi market and predicts a decisive transition from 'pure Wi-Fi' to unlicensed services tied to LTE in various ways.

The report concludes that Carrier Wi-Fi will shift towards technologies such as License Assisted Access (LAA), LTE Wi-Fi Aggregation (LWA), and LTE WLAN Radio Level Integration with IPSec Tunnel (LWIP), as well as LTE in Unlicensed bands (LTE-U).

"In the past, mobile operators have invested in significant Wi-Fi networks", explained Kyung Mun, Senior Analyst at Mobile Experts. "In the future, we expect even more investment in the unlicensed bands, but it will be redirected toward LAA, LWA, and LWIP. Some of the new investment will be coupled to small cells, and multiple business models will be involved as enterprises, carriers, and OTT players will be seeking to capture the end user. The competition for unlicensed spectrum use via WI-Fi or LTE-U is a reflection of the competitive dynamics of the different types of operators."

Joe Madden, Principal Analyst at Mobile Experts, continued, "About 80% of mobile data is actually carried over Wi-Fi today, and we expect at least 90% of mobile data to be carried over unlicensed bands in 2020. Unlicensed data traffic tied to LTE control channels will greatly improve on ease of use, and will be far more reliable than Wi-Fi services. The reason for investment is simple: these hybrid combinations of LTE and unlicensed wireless can achieve the low cost of Wi-Fi, and the easy dependability of LTE."

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