With recent research showing both the rise in mobile data traffic and the rise in Wifi data offload, its clearer than ever that wireless now represents assured connectivity in the workplace and that means sales for the channel.
Juniper Research forecasts that Wifi networks will carry almost 60% of smartphone and tablet data traffic by 2019, reaching over 115,000PB (Petabytes) representing almost a four-fold increase on this years 30,000PB. North America and West Europe together will account for over 50% of the global mobile data being offloaded in 2019.
Others in the industry have already noted the trend and Jonathan Hallatt, regional director UK, Ireland and South Africa at Netgear, discusssed the impact on customers earlier this year.
“Three-quarters of small and medium-sized firms say that having a reliable wireless network in place is now essential for business success. It doesn’t matter if the company has two, twenty or two hundred employees. All agree that a wireless network keeps employees connected wherever they are on site, and that this boosts productivity, strengthens competitiveness and enhances customer service," he commented.
The latest research from Juniper, MobileData Offload and Onload: WIFI, Small Cell and Network Strategies 2015-2019, found that mobile data offload (data migration from a mobile network to a Wi-Fi network) offered several key benefits to industry stakeholders.
Offload addresses the issue of patchy coverage. Juniper estimates global smartphone data consumption to be nearly twice the amount of tablet traffic in 2015. With Cisco forecasting that IP traffic will pass the 2 zettbyte threshold by 2019 and that 67% of that traffic will come from mobile devices, it is becoming increasingly important to assure connection and avoid bottlenecks.
Offload also has the potential for the creation of new services such as VoWi-Fi (voice over WIFI) and to increase the usage of existing 3G/4G services.
Despite these advantages there are some SMB’s that show reluctance to install a WIFI network. Netgear research showed just under a third (31%) of companies had considered abandoning all wireless plans after a bad experience with poor network quality and reliability, while 33% feared a possible data security risk. A quarter was unsure how to introduce wireless into their existing IT infrastructure, rising to 35% of firms with more than 100 employees.
Juniper does caution that Wi-Fi offload brings challenges to operators of effective deployment and return on investment. The white paper states that operators need to view offloading as a complementary solution, along with their 3G/4G network, to ease the network congestion.
Operators can deploy their own public Wi-Fi hotspots, as AT&T in the US has done, then pre-install the connection manager software on customers’ smartphones so that when they detect networks in such hotspots, a seamless connection will be established to Wi-Fi for data.
For the channel to be in the best position to help those businesses unsettled about installing wifi, Hallatt says partners should demand training from the vendor to truly understand the end user’s needs and solutions available to solve their challenges.
“They should also lean on vendors to provide support which allows them to identify wider opportunities, enabling them to build long term relationships with customers and secure additional revenue streams.”
“Another piece of the puzzle is ongoing support,” continued Hallatt. “Partners will only get repeat business if the service and support they offer is of the highest standard. Here, partners should look to a vendor that offers lifetime, 24/7 support.”