By Ernest Worthman…
The idea that a SIM card is the intelligence in a cellular infrastructure was a stroke of genius. It makes changing out devices, roaming across networks and access control a truly beautiful thing. So, it makes sense that this model is being adapted to carrier Wi-Fi hotspots.
Iteration 2.0 of the Wi-Fi hotspot technology is being rolled out with promising results. They are able to use the cellular SIM cards to authenticate and logon, providing a seamless experience similar to the experience in a roaming cellular network.
Reports are starting to come in about carriers who have implemented this technology seeing amazing increases in statistic. At least one Tier 1 mobile carrier has seen its monthly Wi-Fi sessions explode.
This carrier reports an increase of nearly 20 times the number of monthly Wi-Fi sessions in the first two years, according to RCR News, and more than 10 times the number of Wi-Fi users per month in three years. The hotspot authentication process relies on the device’s own SIM card for authentication rather than having to log in, making the transition seamless.
What is interesting about this is that many of the devices that successfully roam do not, natively, support SIM Wi-Fi authentication. It appears that this carrier has come up with a success formula that works with seemingly incompatible hardware.
It stands to reason that users will flock to systems that allow Wi-Fi roaming. It means they will have a much better customer experience, which will, in turn, increase usage and perhaps offer the carrier some opportunity to generate revenue. With seamless Wi-Fi roaming, there is belief that users will accept some sort of advertising across the network to be able to stay connected while roaming. This has not been tried yet but the concept is on the table.
The anonymous carrier has seen a 10-fold increase in sessions – 500,000 to 5 million in the first year. The second year that doubled to 10 million. When its third year has been analyzed at the end of this month, it expects the number to double again, to 20 million sessions per month.
If these numbers are indeed true, and there is no real reason to doubt them, the predictions that carrier Wi-Fi SIM authenticated session will have an annual growth rate of 1,000 percent or more as other carriers adopt the model. And, according to Torbjorn Ward, Aptilo Networks’ CEO, in a statement. “We are seeing more and more carriers leveraging mobile data offloading with SIM authentication to generate revenue. Seamless Wi-Fi offloading combined with a carrier-class Wi-Fi service is becoming the gold standard for mobile operators worldwide.