U.S.-based roaming Wi-Fi service provider iPass has launched a cloud-based international Wi-Fi roaming service calling Business Traveler Service 2.0. The service is aimed at enterprises and uses a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model with the use of automation techniques and an app-based approach. Enterprises can provide iPass with a list of users who can download the app and access the service on their iOS, Android or Microsoft devices. The service requires a single login and covers 2.7 million hotspots in over 120 countries, including 3,000 airports, 22 airlines and more than 72,000 hotels and convention centers.
While Wi-Fi is the preferred mode of internet access for most travelers, using it can be a frustrating experience. Free services can be lacking in quality, while premium services can be expensive. Additional issues such as lack of security and difficult login processes are also widespread. Therefore, a solution such as that of iPass can deliver value to enterprises in terms of increased productivity and cost savings, provided it is designed well. In fact, such a service can deliver value to consumers in general, a fact that many mobile operators have come to recognize. AT&T, Zain, NTT Docomo and KDDI are some of the operators that have reached agreements with global Wi-Fi aggregators such as iPass, Boingo and Fon.
The reasoning is simple. Use of smartphones and tablets is ubiquitous among international travelers; however, most prefer Wi-Fi to mobile data due to the high costs of data roaming and the small allowances provided by many operators. For mobile operators, the profitability of roaming data use per customer declines as usage increases. This is because the operator’s roaming agreement with the local network operator entails having to pay wholesale rates to the local operator for every byte of data consumed, which reduces the operator’s margin on the data pack with more data usage. By providing global Wi-Fi data access as part of their roaming strategy, operators provide a service that the customer is likely to perceive as valuable. Also, by integrating Wi-Fi data into their data travel packs, operators can increase profitability per customer, since customers should prefer to use their Wi-Fi data allowances before consuming their mobile data allowances while still paying an amount similar to what they paid before for the pack. For example AT&T has been partnering with Boingo and Fon since 2013 and offers international Wi-Fi data under its Global Add-Ons (Users get 300 MB of mobile data in 150 countries and 1 GB of Wi-Fi data in select countries for US $60.00 per month and 800 MB of mobile data and 1 GB of Wi-Fi data for US $120.00 per month. The excess usage charge for mobile data is US $30.00 for 120 MB). However, operators will have to ensure that their offerings are structured to meet usage requirements that vary among consumers and provide adequate coverage.
The above item appeared in a recent issue of The Tarifica Alert, a weekly resource that analyzes noteworthy developments in the telecoms industry from around the world. To access all of the latest articles and issues: http://www.tarifica.com/TarificaAlert.aspx