Study Finds Public Wi-Fi Assets are Wasting Capacity

XCellAir conducted an analysis of 250 live Wi-Fi access points around its offices in Montreal, Canada and found that 92 percent of access points do not adjust their operating frequency, no matter how badly performance is degraded by interference.

It also found that on average, two channels worth of bandwidth is unused at any given time, despite congestion and interference. Each channel equates to 50 Mbps of idle bandwidth totalling 100 Mbps unused.

The study, conducted in partnership with independent telecoms analyst Real Wireless, shows that poor management of Wi-Fi assets severely limits such assets' usefulness in dense urban environments.

To quantify the impairment, Real Wireless modeled the impact on a capacity-constrained mobile service provider, over a five-year period.

In New York city, for example, the net present contribution of operational savings and new service revenues was estimated to be $374 million over five years. Some of that value came in the form of avoided mobile network upgrades and investments, worth perhaps $71 million.

New services made possible by efficient use of Wi-Fi assets represented $303 million in value. Quality of experience and lower capacity costs presumably could be used to add price-sensitive users, the analysts assumed.
When scaled to the top ten financial centers across the globe, the opportunity for all operators equates to $17.9 billion over five years. Cities considered include New York, London, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Paris, Frankfurt, Beijing and Chicago.

Much of the revenue lift comes from the ability to add price-sensitive new customers, as a result of lower investments in core network facilities. That obviously will make more sense for some operators than others.

Still, even if one does not fully agree with the full extent of potential benefits, virtually nobody would contest the general notion that a dense pubic or carrier Wi-Fi network has significant benefits in terms of quality of experience or relieving mobile network congestion.
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