Ericsson's traffic-steering feature will be an enhancement to the company's network management software and will arrive by the first quarter of next year. It won't require any special software on handsets, though it will only work with devices that can use EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol), according to Duncan. Virtually all smartphones have EAP, she said.
The catch is that, for now anyway, carriers will have to use both cellular and Wi-Fi gear from Ericsson to get the feature, Duncan said. The core of the network can be from another vendor, she said.
If a carrier uses two different suppliers for its network, as many do, then requiring special gear may hold up adoption of real-time traffic steering, Ovum's Schoolar said.
"You're going to have a very different experience throughout your Wi-Fi footprint. That is kind of a challenge with it in terms of selling it to mobile operators," Schoolar said.
At CTIA, NSN also announced real-time traffic steering, which it said carriers will be able to implement as an overlay on top of whatever equipment they have in their cellular, Wi-Fi and core networks. The new capability, part of the company's Smart Wi-Fi portfolio, will be available in the third quarter, according to NSN.
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