Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sprint Signs Multi-Year Wi-Fi Agreement With Boingo

Boingo Wireless, a U.S.-based Wi-Fi provider, and U.S. mobile operator Sprint announced a multi-year Wi-Fi agreement that will enable access to Boingo Wi-Fi networks in 35 major U.S. airports. Sprint devices within proximity of a Boingo hotspot can automatically connect to the Wi-Fi network, providing service at the fastest speeds available, whether via Sprint cellular or Boingo Wi-Fi. The auto-authenticating Wi-Fi connections are available at no additional charge to all Sprint customers with capable devices.

An important trend in the mobile telecom market today is the way Wi-Fi is increasingly being integrated with cellular service. “With Wi-Fi being the world’s largest wireless ecosystem, we view it as a highly complementary layer to our network,” Sprint CTO Stephen Bye said in a statement. “By enabling customers to move seamlessly between secure Wi-Fi and cellular, our customers will have a better mobile experience in more locations, all while lowering their cost of data usage.” It is interesting to compare concept of Wi-Fi as a backup or complement for 3G/4G service with a related concept just announced by Google, called Project Fi, which also involves a partnership with Sprint. Google says it will be offering MVNO service on the networks of both Sprint and T-Mobile, but with Wi-Fi as the default first option that its devices will seek. In Project Fi, cellular will be the backup, rather than the other way around. We have seen several other Wi-Fi handoff services announced recently, generally device-specific and not as ambitious as Project Fi.

In our view, in order for such offerings to be truly appealing to consumers, a critical mass of Wi-Fi hotspots or networks must exist in places where consumers find themselves needing or wanting to obtain connectivity. Public Wi-Fi is expanding but is still well short of being truly widespread in most regions. Boingo and Sprint, with their offering, have the advantage of being able to depend on a guaranteed existing set of Wi-Fi hotspots in airports, where there is known customer demand. While limited in its aims, the multi-year agreement between the two companies appears to be a win-win proposition.

Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. Click here to contact a Tarifica Analyst

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