Poor Wi-Fi management could cost $18B over five years
XCellAir report tallies up opportunity cost related to Wi-Fi access in 10 global markets
Network management company XCellAir has been studying the effects of poorly-managed, unregulated spectrum and concluded that operators are set to miss out on as much as $18 billion if the current trend continues.
The study, done in partnership with Real Wireless, found that “poor management of Wi-Fi assets severely limits such assets’ usefulness in dense urban environments where many access points are deployed to serve large numbers of users and large volumes of data. Interference between these access points, and minimal spectrum management, means that the user experience is often sub-optimal.”
The study was conducted across 250 live Wi-Fi access points around XCellAir’s offices in Montreal, Canada, the aim being to model common urban scenarios involving public Wi-Fi use.
According to the report, “The analysis revealed the extent to which Wi-Fi is underused and inefficient. It revealed that 92% of access points do not adjust their operating frequency, no matter how badly performance is degraded by interference.”
The report went on to find “that on average, two channels worth of bandwidth is unused at any given time, despite congestion and interference. Each channel equates to 50 Mbps of idle bandwidth totaling 100 Mbps unused. In practical terms, this is enough latent capacity to concurrently stream 25 HD videos, or more than 3,000 HD voice calls.”
On the $18 billion figure, XCell Air looked at opportunity cost, projected over five years, and applied to 10 global financial centers.
For instance: “Choosing New York City to represent an urban area for a five-year model, analysis showed that for an operator with an assumed 25% market share, the net present contribution of operational savings and new service revenues amounted to $374 million over five years.”
Scaled up to include London, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Paris, Frankfurt, Beijing and Chicago, the total figure comes up to $18 billion.
Simon Saunders, director of technology for Real Wireless, said, “Our study reveals the destructive impact of poor Wi-Fi QoE management in cannibalizing valuable network capacity. Carrier Wi-Fi technology is central to supporting most global 4G, and ultimately 5G, network architectures to deliver the best possible user experience. This is especially important in dense urban areas. It is therefore critical that operators take action to ensure Wi-Fi does not become the weak link and prevent service differentiation.”
Narayan Menon, XCell Air founder and CTO, said, “It’s important that operators don’t see unlicensed spectrum as unmanageable spectrum. Wi-Fi offload is already a major technique for operators to increase the capacity of data that they can deal with – but it has been used more as a ‘sticking plaster’ than as an integral part of the network. For Wi-Fi offload to be truly valuable, the customers’ quality of service needs to be just as good as it would be on the cellular network, rather than a second-class network customers are stuck with when data demand is high. Operators must consider unregulated and unlicensed spectrum as another asset in their radio network, and must manage it appropriately or fail to maximize its revenue and service potential.”