The buzz at MWC may have been about LTE-U and its European cousin, LAA (slightly different ways of fair-sharing unlicensed spectrum between WiFi and LTE) but, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, other ways of using both mobile and WiFi to greatest effect are also being advanced, and not just by disruptive players.
According to the Telecompaper Vodafone Germany is introducing a ‘best connected’ app, which uses the general Devicescape idea of automatically (seamlessly, even) connecting a smartphone to the best available signal whether it be WiFi or cellular. Not a new idea, of course, but it is interesting to see that a ‘tier one’ mobile operator is dallying with it. No, it’s not the same thing as License Assisted Access (LAA), but it is tackling the same opportunity (of blending licensed and unlicensed) in a relatively seamless way.
This technology solution was developed with Cisco and Chemring Technology Solutions (CTS).
Speaking of Devicescape, after what seems like years of promising (me, anyway) that it would soon be popping up with an impressive European ‘tier one’ as a customer for its own ‘best connected’, curated amenity Wi-Fi network, it has today announced that none other than global cable giant, Liberty Global, has signed up to “deploy the Devicescape solution across its European mobile footprint,” joining its subsidiary UK cable outfit, Virgin Media, which took the service on in 2014.
“Wi-Fi is essential to our mobile strategy, boosting coverage and capacity — particularly indoors — while driving economic efficiencies which we can pass on to our customers,” said Graeme Oxby, Managing Director, European Mobile Operations, Liberty Global. “By combining Wi-Fi and cellular as we are able to with the Devicescape solution, we are also delivering a significant improvement to the customer experience.”
And also just announced, HP is extending its relationship with iPass (it had a deal in Asia from 2014) to offer free Wi-Fi on notebooks and tablets worldwide. HP says its device users will have access to millions of hotspots on the iPass global Wi-Fi network.
All these deals seem to be pushing the WiFi hotspot aggregation game on a notch or two. Last year we reported that iPass had aggregated two other major players in the evolving ‘WiFi first’ market, leaping into bed with Devicescape to add that company’s ‘virtual’ network (it doesn’t own hotspots, but curates amenity WiFi connections) to iPass’s multi-million Wifi hotspots, giving the combined entity a global network of 50 million ‘Wi-Fi locations’. iPass also lined up with FON, one of the original Wi-Fi aggregators. FON brought with it another 9 million hotspots.
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