Free Public WiFi Threatened?

Nearly every company on the show floor at Mobile World Congress has projections of broadband growth, says Sue Marek of Fierce Wireless:

Operators are offloading their macro networks with small cells integrating 3G, 4G — and Wi-Fi. Does that mean free public WiFi will get pushed out by carrier-based subscription services? The short answer seems to be “yes”.

Ruckus Wireless is debuting a cellular infrastructure product at Mobile World Congress, with a carrier-class Wi-Fi access points that can accommodate 3G/4G radios.

Telecom giants are integrating Wi-Fi into their service offerings. Ericsson is buying Wi-Fi vendor BelAir Networks, while Alcatel-Lucent last week announced a system for users to roam easily between Wi-Fi hotspots and its cellular infrastructure. Alcatel-Lucent lightRadio WiFi device adds WiFi connectivity, as well as 2G, 3G and LTE. They can be mounted on bus stops, using LTE as the backhaul.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance, a collection of network operators, announced successful tests of what WBA calls the “Next Generation Hotspot,” based in part on Passpoint and other WFA specs.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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