Billing Implications of LTE-U, MuLTEfire or LAA?

The current interest on the part of mobile operators to combine access assets across Wi-Fi and Long Term Evolution and all subsequent mobile networks (fifth generation and beyond) might turn on billing rather than technology or regulatory issues.

Offload of mobile device traffic to Wi-Fi generally is seen as a positive by mobile operators, as it often results in better user experience, while not debiting mobile data allowances.

The ability to combine mobile and Wi-Fi access assets might turn on the potential revenue upside, however. Compared to a scenario where users switch to Wi-Fi for access, not using the mobile network at all, Long Term Evolution-Universal (license assisted access or Qualcomm’s MulLTEfire) could represent some incremental ability on the part of a mobile service provider to directly bill for Wi-Fi usage.

Of course, that also was the hope when mobile operators launched Long Term Evolution as well, so nothing is assured. As it turned out, operators generally are unable to charge any premium for LTE access, compared to 3G.

It might turn out that most consumers continue to simply switch to Wi-Fi, whenever possible, rather than relying on mobile network access.
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