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How Asian telcos can keep up with consumers’ insatiable demand for connectivity

Nurdianah Md Nur | May 8, 2017
CIO Asia finds out what telcos should do to meet consumers' expectations for faster and more reliable connections so as to better compete with their existing and upcoming competitors.

Credit: GraphicStock

Consumers in Asia Pacific are heavily reliant on Wi-Fi networks.

According to the Internet Society's Mobile Internet Usage Trends in Asia Pacific report, 72 percent of the respondents prefer using Wi-Fi over a data connection when accessing internet on their mobile devices. Conducted in September 2015, the report is based on the opinions of 1,620 respondents across 37 economies in Asia Pacific.

Complementing those findings, a study commissioned by Amdocs found that 48 percent of mobile users in the region are actively using Wi-Fi networks to get better quality service. "When data demand is primarily indoors, it can be problematic for 3G/4G technologies because their higher frequencies have a harder time penetrating buildings," Aravind Vasudevan, Director Marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan, Ruckus Wireless Business Unit, Brocade Communications Systems, told CIO Asia.

Consumers' increasing demand for faster and more reliable connectivity poses a number of challenges for telcos. "Mobile network operators in Asia are facing a common structural problem in their businesses. Traffic growth is outstripping the capacity of their mobile network, especially in urban 'hot zones'. In turn, operators are under pressure to offer faster speeds to keep up with their customers' insatiable demand for data intensive applications," Vasudevan said.

"Moreover, as the telecommunications industry in Asia becomes even more competitive, operators are struggling to find paths to profitable growth. Markets are becoming saturated and new subscribers are getting more expensive to acquire, while current subscribers are apt to leave in their search for a better deal," he added.


Is Smart Wi-Fi the answer?

Wi-Fi is one way of countering the above-mentioned issues. "Wi-Fi presents an attractive option and complementary technology for Asian mobile operators looking to scale the capacity, efficiency and footprint of their existing macro networks. Mobile operators are deploying Wi-Fi in areas where there is not enough spectrum and where there is high population density, like in Southeast Asia," Vasudevan shared.

Ruckus' Smart Wi-Fi thus aims to help telcos "extend the range and improve the reliability of wireless signals, eliminating much of the cost and complexity of conventional wireless local area network (LAN) deployments."

"[Our Smart Wi-Fi solution] combines hardware, software, and services to deliver faster and dependable wireless network to support Multiple System Operators (MSO) and Operators services.  Our adaptive antenna arrays and best path selection algorithms direct signals only where they are needed, which ensures unprecedented coverage and consistent performance, best in mitigating interference and download and upload performance for mobile devices," Vasudevan explained.

"The cost of transporting data is expected to outpace revenue, and a poor user experience resulting from network congestion will result in customer churn. Consequently, operators will need to use every tool available to them, and Smart Wi-Fi systems are essential for improving consumer experience and reducing costs," he added.


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