Mobile operators are increasingly interested in using Wi-Fi to offload data from their overstretched 3G networks, and some, like AT&T, have invested heavily in their own hotspots or in partnerships.
But none has yet gone as far as Korea's KT, which has called on cellcos round the world to establish free global Wi-Fi roaming to make offload even more effective.
Hyun-Myung Pyo, president KT's mobile division, told the GSMA's Mobile Asia Congress that the operator is offloading two-thirds of its mobile data - around 2,500Tb a month - to WLANs.
“Operators need to collaborate to build global free Wi-Fi roaming to offload 3G traffic,” he said. His solution was just one approach to the challenge of mobile data explosion, which has dominated the event.
Huawei's chief strategy and marketing officer, Richard Yu, claimed that mobile network capacity “needs to increase by 500 times” to cope with new services and increased web usage, which will be achieved via 4G, refarmed spectrum and dense networks of small cells.
Japan's second cellco, KDDI, shares KT's view that multiple networks will be needed. It will use Wi-Fi and also Wimax to supplement its 3G and 4G activities.