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
CCS Insight is looking for an experienced sales professional to take charge of our global sales activities https://t.co/iBmMnD4u91
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
No login req'd! @CCSInsight analysis of the launch of the @nokiamobile 8. Nokia now back in the high tier.… https://t.co/fljj61y1wT
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Fancy being part of a documentary where you swap homes, budgets and lifestyles? Here is your chance... https://t.co/4YNl6XSPVt
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
@Qualcomm acquires AI startup @ScyferNL - will boost its cred in AI. https://t.co/i66rE18uGY. Positioning itself fo… https://t.co/NUbgS8nhOk
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
Amazon doubling down on developer momentum with Alexa Voice Service Device SDK. Google has much catching up to do https://t.co/4zXq4G6v5V
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
@nationalrailenq You think you are excused for the inconvenience? Is the signaling system ever going to get fixed??? https://t.co/wRlCbQZPuN
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
Top move> #Box to integrate #GoogleCloud Vision image recognition API for image-based workflows #MachineLearning #AI https://t.co/tcDYRKfC3F
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
Another big weekend of live #PL games in #UHD #4K & #DolbyAtmos in the UK #SWAMUN #STKARS #HUDNEW #TOTCHE #MCIEVE… https://t.co/WfHQs4ZbaN
Follow Paolo
Kester Mann
RT @shauncollins: Nokia launches the 8. It's flagship device with @ZEISSLenses, Dual Sight and Ozo Audio. Lovely device but will need posit…
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
RT @zachlieberman: Ar camera app test -- your pictures stay where you took them https://t.co/ZiPB10aouL
Follow George
Katie Taylor
RT @Medgadget: Data Mined Insurance Records Point to Interesting Disease Relationships | https://t.co/FP3BHTRAnS
Follow Katie
Tony Worthington
Evolution: Microtel, Mercury One-2-One, Orange, TMobile, EE, BT. Have I missed anything out?
Follow Tony

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
It's Still Pre-Season in India Indian Subscribers Continue to Resist Post-Paid Mobile Servi... Read more
Blog Post
Nokia 8 Enters the High-End Fray New Nokia-Branded Smartphone Marks Milestone for HMD Global ... Read more
Blog Post
Zap&Go Your Device New Method Enables Battery Charging in Seconds It feels i... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
Halcyon Days Ahead for Indian Telecom Market CCS Insight Predicts Consolidation in India to Just Four Mob... Read more
More news