In Business Model, Internet Access, Mobile, Spectrum

The Wi-Fi business model historically has been mostly indirect, with a few exceptions, such as business-focused for-fee access services such as Boingo. In most other cases, Wi-Fi has been a feature of in-home or in-office or in-building internet access, or an amenity offered to customers paying for other services (fixed or mobile network internet access, lodging, food and beverage, professional services, events).

It now appears the Wi-Fi business model is largely going to shift in ways that further extend Wi-Fi in the direction of core mobile or fixed network internet access. Up to this point, Wi-Fi has been useful in that regard mainly as a way of offloading mobile network traffic to the fixed network.

Now it will increasingly be possible to bond Wi-Fi and unlicensed spectrum to licensed spectrum with quality of service features, increasingly shifting the business model towards for-fee internet access of various types.

The principle remains “use any available access,” but with an important distinction: it will increasingly be possible to assure quality of service for for-fee access services, even when using any available access.


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