TWC’s WiFi service is using the WeFi Enhanced Access Network Discovery and Selection Function – WeANDSF, as if that’s any easier – to assure that its customers are always connected to the best wireless option available.
The system monitors and evaluates all wireless contact points available to any given device, including wireless carrier (2G, 3G, LTE or WiMAX) and Wi-Fi hotspots available from any service provider. Service providers can then use the resulting data to direct each device to the optimum connection.
There are several reasons to do this, but one of the more compelling is creating improved access, leading to increased network usage.
WeFi CEO Zur Feldman said the system is in use by several companies, including a Tier 1 (other than TWC) that is using it to help connect its customers to the best 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi or WiMAX network available.
“We can show usage goes up by anywhere from 60 percent to 80 percent on a Wi-Fi network, in terms of the customer consuming more Wi-Fi,” he said.
Each service provider can determine for itself what “optimum” means, based on its own policies and reflecting its own business objectives. It could mean the most advanced network connection available, or the best connection on any network carrying the least traffic at the moment, or the nearest best connection on the service provider’s own network, for example.
The WeANDSF tools monitor device activity no matter what network it is on – whether on the service provider’s own, a partner’s network or a rival’s network – so the service provider using the tools will always be able to keep track of its own customers, explained Feldman.
WeANDSF was developed for mobile operators to intelligently manage mobile device offloading from saturated mobile data networks to available Wi-Fi networks. The company has since adapted for cable operators to manage the onloading of data traffic to their Wi-Fi services. The system depends on the installation of client software on users’ devices and routers installed by the service provider.
The service provider using the system aggregates network data from all client devices, which it uses to evaluate all wireless access points in any given area. The system keeps historical data, which it uses to predict traffic behavior. But the system also analyzes data in real time, too, so that if, contrary to the predictive model, the best recommended access point is too busy, the next best option can be determined and the customer routed there, Feldman explained.
Feldman said TWC is using the system to figure out how to keep customers in-network. By determining where customers most frequently try to connect to a wireless service, TWC can then deploy Wi-Fi hotspots in those places where it currently lacks coverage.
WeFi currently has client software only for Android devices, Feldman said, with an iOS version forthcoming. It is currently resident on 7 million devices in use, the company said.
“WeFi is providing TWC WiFi with the most complete and efficient network management toolset we evaluated, and their powerful Wi-Fi network planning tool is giving us great insights on where best to deploy our Wi-Fi hotspots,” said Mike Roudi, senior vice president of corporate development at Time Warner Cable. “WeFi analyzes massive amounts of real-time data on Wi-Fi hotspot locations and conditions and gives TWC real-time feedback on the quality of the Wi-Fi networks. This data is crucial for TWC WiFi to deliver the best-possible mobile Internet service.”
Feldman said, “As wireless broadband and faster mobile devices create exponentially increasing demand for mobile data services, and fierce competition for subscribers increase, the impact of the end user experience on revenue cannot be overstated.”