Rethink Wi-Fi Carrier Roaming To Reduce Subscriber Churn & Make Money

Mark Carter, Chief Product Officer, GlobalReach Technology

Wi-Fi carrier roaming produces additional revenues for service providers its primary benefit is in the avoidance and reduction of subscriber churn.

Service providers can leverage Wi-Fi carrier roaming to extend service platforms by working with other operators to add value in other territories and and other vertical markets.

This can boost brand loyalty and, as roaming barriers for LTE come down, can also help in the development of a more heterogeneous network view.

Wi-Fi has a strong card to play in that game by providing service providers with lower cost transport services.

In this interview, originally filmed by TelecomTV at the WBA’s Wireless Global Congress London, 2018, Mark Carter, GlobalReach Technology’s chief product officer, urges the industry to rethink roaming and the complementary nature of 5G and Wi-Fi.

How are service providers using GlobalReach for both consumers and enterprises?

Our service platform falls into two camps.

Authentication, with virtual RADIUS and oAuth to allow service providers to tailor their authentication method that they want their users to use.  This isn’t just email.  It could be Google or Facebook identities for example.

More and more people are additionally now asking for loyalty platforms tie-ins, which actually drives brand loyalty and brand engagement.

The second piece is the actual interface that the user sees during their journey, which is traditionally the captive portal.  GlobalReach gives them a platform to allow them to design, build, and develop any number of wireless services, depending on the enterprises they’ve worked with. It’s essentially a management platform for the wireless user experience, which allows them to brand and customise all their services.

Our platform contains standalone feature units, which do what they say on the tin. Features like policy management and provisioning for example.

How is it helping service providers to improve the services they’re talking about?

Our specific capabilities are about the improvements to the user journey, Passpoint, user profiles, enabling pre-deployment of Wi-Fi authentication before consumers get to a venue. At Wireless Global Congress London 2018, for example, you saw QR codes for onboarding by Passpoint for the first time.

So cutting down the technical requirement and breaking down the barrier to entry, which is something that Wi-Fi has struggled with in comparison with mobile.

Our goal is to make the experience seamless but not to get away from a better user experience.

What are the benefits of Wi-Fi carrier roaming?

Fundamentally is generates some carrier revenue, but really for me the primary use of service providers to consider this is to avoid churn.

By working with other service providers they can add capability to their service platform, add territories and brand capability. Which adds value to their subscribers.

What you’re seeing as the roaming barriers for LTE come down, you’re starting to see a more heterogeneous mix. Wi-Fi has a major role to play in that mix for bringing down the transport costs for voice traffic for example, when people are travelling out of the territory, or are within areas where voice coverage might be bad.

What about the consumers? They’re the ones who are playing in the end. Are they particularly aware?

Probably not, to be honest.

More and more we are starting to see a service requirement to move away from apps. It needs to be part of the bearer network and to work seamlessly. Consumers are now starting to appreciate Wi-Fi not for what it is, but what it does.

It’s about the loading of content, and about the experience that they want.  So while they don’t necessarily appreciate the technology, why should they?

I don’t think that they necessarily care.

Where do you see Wi-Fi in a 5G world, and are you evolving your products and services to get ready for the demise?

Well, I don’t agree with the demise for a start.  I think that they do different things.  You’ve heard at WGCLON that the carriers are very much setting out differential plays for 5G and Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi ultimately has a role to deliver the last 50 feet. You have that high power, so you might use 5G to a rural homestead, but the distribution on the property of more likely to be Wi-Fi.

So I think that there is a match.

What is encouraging is that Wi-Fi and AX are keeping pace, in terms of the bandwidth capability.

There’s always a danger that you might have lightning-fast Wi-Fi and no backhaul, which is a mismatch and affects the whole experience. So if the two technologies don’t work together for different use cases. Then there’s a problem.

Our capabilities take account of the bearer to shape the traffic and to give a faster experience, so I’m tending to concentrate on technologies like HTTP2 which is smoothing out that user capability in low bandwidth situations.

Where it comes to high bandwidth content, it’s really about managing the stream for that user.

Find the full interview, and the views of the GlobalReach team on Passpoint, roaming, and 5G/Wi-Fi convergence here.

About Mark Carter

With over 30 years of wireless experience, Mark leads our product strategy. He is an active member of the Seamless Air Alliance, contributing to the specification and delivery of its seamless and secure in-flight passenger connectivity standard. He also leads our roaming and offload proposition for operators, and contributes to the WBA’s roaming working group.