Wi-Fi: Friend or Foe?

The EU's Hot-Spot Plans Could Pose a Threat to Wireless Operators


In the age of over-the-top services, smartphone users have learned how to be agnostic to the underlying network technology. They prefer robust connectivity, and getting it for free is better than paying the operator a fee. So when governments plan gratis wide area wireless, it could challenge mobile operators. There's a potential substitution effect at work here, although operators tend to consider, publically at least, that the two technologies complement rather than compete with each other.

On Wednesday, European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, in the annual State of the Union address, proposed supporting free Wi-Fi for populations in the EU. The commission is the decision-making branch of the EU and is responsible for proposing legislation and carrying out the day-to-day business of the union.

The project, entitled WiFi4EU, aims to put free Wi-Fi hot spots in parks, squares, libraries and other public buildings. It's a grand vision of mass municipal Wi-Fi with a beneficial intention of democratising connectivity.

In addition to suggesting free Wi-Fi, the commission has also proposed a reform of its telecommunication regulations. It wants to make affordable broadband Internet access a part of the universal service obligation for telecommunication operators. It will be up to national governments to ensure people with low incomes have access to such services, perhaps by offering vouchers to cover the cost or by requiring operators to provide special tariff options. The commission plans to provide €120 million through 2019 to subsidise the acquisition and installation of Wi-Fi hot spots in over 6,000 locations.

The goal of digital inclusion is admirable, but municipal Wi-Fi has a mixed track record of success, which indicates that the realities of implementation can't be easily cancelled out. However, if the commission succeeds with a broad roll-out of wireless Internet, it could be a disruptor to mobile operators and even local Internet service providers. Wi-Fi could be a good substitute for cellular access and subscribers have become clever in juggling their connections. Subscriber growth has reached a ceiling and the EU's plans could add a dose of uncertainty to the market.

Somewhat ironically, the same proposal also includes plans to deploy 5G mobile networks across the EU by 2025. European wireless operators are already preparing to roll out the next generation of networks, but the same efforts to encourage fast WANs could be slowed by plans to encourage fast WLANs.

The EU's public endeavours will most likely encourage more-private efforts to keep costs down and connectivity available.

This entry was posted on September 16th, 2016 and is filed under Services. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Posted By Raghu Gopal On September 16th, 2016


Comments
186k
- 2016-09-19 at 09:56
The EU's wifi initiative is only backed by €120m to address 500m pop. That amount is less than the revenue EU mobile operators generate in half a day so I doubt they'll be too concerned
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
The #Krack attack that puts billions of devices at risk highlights a flaw in the creation of the Wi-Fi standard: https://t.co/3RbiAW7Th2
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
Congratulations @AnthonyVollmer. https://t.co/uBYiXwLAwF
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Most memorable preso at Qualcomm 4G/5G event was @BT / @EE’s dancing MD (IT & Mobile), Fotis Karonis. Bullish goal… https://t.co/WT45rxO61S
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
#IoT This is interesting: Apple partnership with GE for Predix. https://t.co/gyCCtjGitR. But an SDK per IoT platfor… https://t.co/JMy3vALaIs
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
Samsung partnering with Google on ARCore makes sense. Samsung changing though - 3 yrs ago it would have sought to d… https://t.co/oKgDrjPQV0
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
5G subscriptions will reach 1 billion in 2023. Our new 5G forecast for the ambitiously long period of 2018-2025:… https://t.co/lykFFxl8Sr
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
Sorry to hear MobileIron's @bmainz has left. EMM is rapidly reshaping. Tough out there for a specialist, public firm https://t.co/tWiEj06djI
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
Spoilt for choice, what a line up; @ChampionsLeague goals show or #CHEROM live in #UHD #4K & #DolbyAtmos on BT Spor… https://t.co/5uqH3KbuGx
Follow Paolo
Kester Mann
Voda UK to launch novel PAYG concept. Spend limited to £1/day, but unlimited voice/SMS and 500MB of data thereafter. Aim to mitigate worry.
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
Hands on with the new Ricoh Theta V! 4K video is the highlight of the V - I'm hoping to see an improvement in the p… https://t.co/kd0vGEXHBd
Follow George
Laura Simeonova
RT @benwood: Big news from Samsung overnight. Despite strong profits CEO resigns. Cites concerns over future challenges. https://t.co/bqI1…
Follow Laura
Katie Taylor
RT @TheBMA: Two junior doctors were left looking after more than 400 patients during very unsafe shift at stretched hospital https://t.co/q…
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
The Wi-Fi Krack Security Vulnerability Highlights a Flaw in the Standard's C... Read more
Blog Post
Game On in Smartphone Market Will There Be Demand for Razer's Gaming Smartphone? Razer, ... Read more
Blog Post
Google Touts Gigabit LTE Advantage Aims to Enhance Android Experience on High-Tier Phones It's... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
CCS Insight Predicts 1 Billion Users of 5G by 2023, with More Than Half in China 5G to take off faster than any previous mobile technology ... Read more
More news