Having worked in the telecoms industry for longer than I care to remember I have been privy to much of the hype that has surrounded technologies, services and platforms.
My personal favourite was the marketing image constructed around WAP particularly the high tech individuals surfing the WAP-powered internet. This fantasy, seen in multiple campaigns, was particularly deceptive when the actual experience of using WAP was more like watching a glacier melting – and odds on the glacier would be gracing some overpriced restaurant being proffered as mineral water well before the WAP page was delivered.
Wi-Fi has experienced something similar in its evolution, being touted as an answer to global telecoms connectivity and a realistic challenger to GSM - and subsequently falling to deliver and falling out of favour in the cellular environment.
It would be an understatement to say that Wi-Fi has come back in favour with cellular players over the last few years. The technology is seen as a solution for data service delivery that is cost effective for the operator (taking data off the macro network) and the customer when used while roaming (considerably cheaper than data roaming on a cellular network), while generally delivering a better data experience for the end user.
Of particular interest at the moment is the question of how Wi-Fi might be best used while roaming. This interest has evolved from the confluence of several industry-wide developments, fortuitous market dynamics and a number of challenges Wi-Fi has been identified as a solution for.
These points can be condensed into: