Today, Wi-Fi connectivity is gaining great prominence and also giving operators a big chance to better engage with their customers as well as create more opportunities to monetize their network. Right at the helm of this connectivity revolution is – Tata Docomo and it is putting a lot of effort to enable and manage robust Wi-Fi led infrastructure in India.
Natraj Akella, Vice President – Wi-Fi, Tata Teleservices Ltd speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the way Wi-Fi is gaining importance and how the company looks at this segment for achieving growth.
At a time when delivering the right connectivity is becoming very important for operators to increase their bonding with customers, what role can be played by Wi-Fi to increase this bonding?
Connectivity is key. This is a world in which high-speed Internet access is expected to be available to us all, wherever we are, regardless of demographics, occupation or geography. Consumers expect us to provide good, reliable, secure and seamless connectivity options for the myriad of devices they carry. It is not just limited to people. In the exploding Internet-of-Things, Wi-Fi is a fundamental, ubiquitous wireless technology that is utilized in a myriad of IoT applications and devices.
Wi-Fi connectivity is shipped with almost all smart phones, tablets, laptops, and countless devices, making it a widely utilized link within the chain of connectivity. Wifi thus plays the crucial central role in connecting people to their family, friends, communities, content and things as it is ubiquitous, easy to use and is already present in all the devices.
What kind of Wi-Fi led innovations are being driven by your organization today?
Tata Docomo is the pioneer in providing public Wi-Fi services across India. We have provided public Wi-Fi services at high-footfall areas across India such as top Indian airports, Connaught Place in New Delhi, and across a number of retail chains in India. We are working on a number of areas including upgrading the infrastructure that will ultimately help us deliver magical customer experiences to our customers. To this effect we had showcased a live NGN network at the recently held WBA conference in Delhi.
How can Wi-Fi help operators towards increasing their monetization capabilities today?
We strongly believe in working towards providing magical customer experiences to our consumers. In delivering a truly seamless high speed internet experience, through the best possible connectivity option present at the location, on smartphones. Monetization will follow. It dosen’t work the other way around. Having said that, we do have capabilities and partnerships to deliver targeted and contextual advertisements, location based services, relevant content etc should the customers and our location partners demand.
What are some of the big trends that you see happening towards deployment of carrier grade Wi-Fi today?
Carrier grade Wi-Fi networks will offer high speeds, improved security, quality of service and enhanced user experience compared to the traditionally available best-efforts Wi-Fi that is deeply rooted on monetization at any cost.
The leading trend for next five years will be the functional integration of Wi-Fi with other mobile data networks – the Wi-Fi network would be controlled from the operator’s core network. With evolving technology the handovers between various data networks will be seamless and will be managed like any other mobile internet service. Other trends include development of new technologies to support those carrier-grade and integrated models, from extensions to the 802.11 family, to evolutions of Next Generation Hotspot and Passpoint.
Please share the solutions being driven by your organization in this space?
Tata Docomo Wi-Fi network offers connectivity across major hotels, airports, educational institutes and cafes in India. Tata Docomo subscribers can now experience high speed internet from their existing data quota on Wi-Fi through our app thus eliminating the- need for multiple passwords/ OTP. This also has features of auto connect and auto- discover hotspots. They would soon be able to buy high speed wifi data packs conveniently and securely through the app. We have systems and processes in place to manage, monitor and react at an individual access point level through a 24 X 7 NOC and field response teams. Along with connectivity, we also offer suite of value added services like global roaming, entertainment, educational and business services and more.
What are some of the big challenges that you see in this space? How can these be converted into opportunities for tomorrow?
The challenge lies in meeting the demands of increasing mobile traffic along with providing seamless experience and last mile connectivity. By the end of the decade, global mobile data traffic will have reached 30.6 exabytes. Beyond a point, telecom operators can’t hope to boost their core network capacities by simply adding more spectrum or upgrading to high-speed packet access (HSPA) networks.
This translates into an opportunity for Wi-Fi. Carrier Wi-Fi networks, managed by telecom service providers, can deliver high-quality, superfast broadband services to meet the growing demand. Combined with advances in infrastructure and improvements in last mile connectivity, high data density and usage challenge of today can become the opportunity for tomorrow.