Where it comes to Wi-Fi networks, the revenue model always has been an issue.
For most mobile operators, fixed telephone networks and cable TV operators, public hotspot Wi-Fi originally was an amenity, a useful feature for buyers of either mobile or fixed Internet access service. That has meant there was very little direct revenue.
The upside came from better marketing platforms and lower churn rates.
In-home Wi-Fi was a feature that made wiring chores to support in-home signal distribution easier and less costly. That arguably had operating cost and some capital cost savings, but did not directly create a clear revenue stream.
Also, Wi-Fi access for mobile and other devices has been a means of providing better signal coverage and access speed. Valuable, to be sure, but not a direct revenue contributor.
More recently, Wi-Fi has been a means of offloading traffic from mobile to fixed networks, improving user experience, slowing the rate at which mobile network capacity upgrades were required, and boosting subscriber satisfaction by reducing the hit to mobile Internet usage buckets.
It remains to be seen whether mobile network ability to use Wi-Fi can be directly monetized, but it appears some mobile operators will try to do so.
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