CUHK proposes community Wi-Fi networks

23 Mar 2017

The Chinese University of Hong Kong's (CUHK) Faculty of Engineering has proposed two business models designed to augment public Wi-Fi coverage and achieve the economic benefits of a Wi-Fi sharing community.

The two models have been proposed by the Network Communications and Economics Lab (NCEL), led by the department's Professor Jianwei Huang.

The lab has proposed a model designed to provide seamless urban Wi-Fi coverage by overcoming the bottleneck involved with the limited range of Wi-Fi hotspots.

Under the model, a crowd-sourced, shared Wi-Fi community network would help vastly improve coverage. Members of the network would share their Wi-Fi hotspots with other users.

Similar approaches are being explored by network operators including Australia's Telstra, which operates the Telstra Air network consisting largely of hotspots provided by its broadband customers, who are able to use their data allocations on any of the shared hotspots.

CUHK's research team said a community Wi-Fi network could transcend national borders and require little additional investments from a network operator.

The second proposed model involves optimal pricing schemes for paid and free advertising sponsored Wi-Fi access provided in public venues.

The research team has conducted analysis based on game theory to develop these optimal pricing schemes, that can be adjusted based on the proportion of visitors who choose to pay and those opt for advertising sponsored access.

“With the Wi-Fi advertising business model, the advertisers can efficiently reach the targeted consumer groups based on information collected by the Wi-Fi networks, such as consumer locations and mobility patterns,” Huang said.

“Moreover, the operators can obtain extra revenue through selling the advertisement spaces to the advertisers. This encourages the operators to set up more Wi-Fi hotspots, which improves the overall Wi-Fi coverage and benefits the whole city.”

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