Unlimited data: Will networks rethink WiFi offloading?

By Hassen Hamza, Pre-Sales & Business Development Director MEA, Nexign for EE Publisher

August 5, 2019

According to a report released by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), titled The State of ICT 2019, mobile data traffic in South Africa in terabytes has shown strong growth, increasing by 55% in 2016, 67% in 2017 and 68% in 2018. With this continuous increase of mobile data traffic, network providers are looking for more ways to ensure that their networks are ready to handle this increased capacity. Despite the unlimited data offering, WiFi offload will remain one of the major pillars for network operators and will become much more important in the upcoming years. Network operators will not rethink WiFi offloading in terms of removing or ending it but will rather look to enhance it and extend it due to the unlimited data plans being offered.

So far, WiFi offloading has been mostly chosen by subscribers with capped data bundles in order to reduce their cellular data consumption. Even with the introduction of unlimited data plans, a majority of end users have still kept the same behaviour and many of these subscribers are still automatically connecting to WiFi hotspots as they find them. As data usage is growing dramatically, especially after the introduction of the unlimited data plans, network operators are using WiFi offload to enhance and optimise the network coverage in dense, indoor and high traffic areas. For this, operators are building more carrier WiFi networks and are automatically connecting their end customers to the WiFi hotspots whenever they’re in range.