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Strategic Analysis of Public Wi-Fi in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • October 2014
  • -
  • Frost & Sullivan
  • -
  • 56 pages


Table of Contents

Surging Demand from Consumers to Access Data on their Mobile Devices Fuels Market Growth

Key Findings

•There is a rise in the deployment of Wi-Fi hotspots in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, driven by the growing number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
•The market has mostly been dominated by Internet service providers (ISPs) and specialist Wi-Fi providers. Mobile operators have traditionally not participated in this market due to concerns that it cannibalises their revenue.
•However, there are growing signs of operators increasingly turning to Wi-Fi to offload some of their cellular traffic on to Wi-Fi networks. Due to the limited hotspot footprint, they need to invest in building their own Wi-Fi networks or partner with established Wi-Fi providers.
•The primary aim of deploying hotspots has been to provide basic connectivity as service providers look to drive their mobile data revenue. Deployments have mostly been targeted at prime venues, such as airports, hotels, restaurants and sports stadiums.
•Safaricom in Kenya and South Africa’s Telkom Mobile are also targeting commuters as they start to deploy hotspots in minibus taxis. This is expected to increase their mobile data penetration, especially with the growing availability of low-cost and dual SIM-card smartphones.
•In the long term, enterprises in consumer-centric industries are expected to use Wi-Fi to enhance their customer experience. Providing managed Wi-Fi services for on-premise locations such as retail stores, stadiums and libraries will be the key for service providers.

Market Definitions

•Carrier Wi-Fi: It refers to Wi-Fi connectivity that offers carrier-grade security and quality of service, to support multiple connected devices. The term is used to differentiate between the services provided for typical residential Wi-Fi connectivity and those provided as gratuity in hotels and restaurants.
•Femtocell: Femtocells are low-power base stations designed for use in residential or small business environments.
•Freemium: The term is used to refer to a model of providing customers with free basic features of a product (e.g., Wi-Fi) or service, with the view of charging them a premium for supplemental features.
•Public Hotspot: This refers to Wi-Fi locations in public venues such as coffee shops, parks or campuses, that can be accessed by customers, either free or for a fee through a login. This excludes private hotspots in the home, mobile Wi-Fi, and MiFi devices.
•Quad Play: The term, sometimes known as quadruple play, refers to the telecom service model of bundling voice, data and video services, making them available seamlessly in a mobile and fixed network environment.
•Traffic Offload: This refers to moving mobile data traffic from an existing network such as cellular network, to another overlay network.
•Wi-Fi Hotspot: This is a site at which subscribers can access the Internet using their Wi-Fi-enabled devices. These hotspots are usually in public places such as airports, restaurants and hotels.

Market Overview

•Evolving communication technologies are changing the way mobile subscribers and smart devices connect to each other.
•A rising number of new devices, machines and home appliances entering the market are designed with Internet access capabilities.
•Telecom operators and Internet service providers (ISPs) are deploying advanced wireless networks such as 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi to support the growing demand for ubiquitous access to the Internet.
•While cellular networks are still an important component of mobile communications, in some of the more developed markets, Wi-Fi is emerging as the technology of choice for targeted Internet access.
•In the United States and Japan, for example, mobile cellular networks are increasingly being used as the bridge between Wi-Fi networks as subscribers move between public venues and buildings. This has witnessed some convergence between cellular and Wi-Fi networks to make the handover more seamless.
•In Africa, the role of large mobile operators in deploying Wi-Fi hotspots has been subdued. Their cautious approach to the technology has mostly been a result of the concern over Wi-Fi access cannibalising mobile data revenues.

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