iPass predicts clash of fixed and mobile operators

11 June 2012 |

Wifi hotspots will become a battleground between mobile operators and service providers in the future according to Wifi provider iPass

With the majority of smartphones and tablet devices now capable of connecting to Wifi networks for data transmission, Steve Livingston, SVP of carrier development at iPass told Capacity that he anticipates a clash between fixed and mobile operators.

“These markets had been very separate, very different, but I think there will definitely be some clashes. The mobile guys will have the advantage when you’re in motion, but the broadband players can bring a very disruptive offer if they get off their backsides.”

Ever increasing consumer demand for mobile data has led many mobile carriers to explore using Wifi to ease the strain on their networks. Wifi hotspots are considered a cheaper option than rolling out fibre-optic cable to mobile towers, with AT&T in the US already engaged in a large scale Wifi deployment.

Meanwhile fixed and broadband service providers are also seeing Wifi as a complementary addition to their own offering creating a crossover of interests. Large scale deployments include those from UK fixed/broadband provider BT, which said that it is committed to a deployment of 500,000 Wifi hotspots across London in time for the Olympic Games coming to the city later this year.

Livingston insisted that carriers should see Wifi as a complementary rather than competitive technology. He said that the company was witnessing much larger scale Wifi deployments than ever before, with significant interest from Asia and the Middle East.

iPass is encouraging carriers to become partners in its global Wifi exchange, to provide customers with access to Wifi across the world. Livingston said that he expected 10-20 more carriers to sign up to the exchange this year, potentially including a large carrier in Africa and, other companies in Spain, France and the UK.