The subject of indoor vs. outdoor mobile internet access is much debated. Currently, consumers have very different expectations when they access the internet via a mobile device indoors, and when they do so outdoors.
As Dean Bubley highlighted on his blog recently, most users expect to jump through a small hoop, like ‘watching an advert, or asking a barista for a code’ when accessing free public WIFI in a coffee shop or airport, but expect to be able to use this service, regardless of the provider (coffee shop or otherwise) and their Mobile Network Operator (MNO).
Outdoors, when it comes to mobile internet access, all third-party suppliers are hidden behind a single brand logo; that of the mobile operator, or MVNO. Users have long accepted that different operators have different levels of cellular coverage based on the location of their masts and roaming plans and so, naturally, have come to expect a less than unified 3G or 4G experience. However, this is now improving, and mobile internet access is moving towards a comparable experience between the two.
The switch between indoor and outdoor connectivity is a complex topic in the world of LTE. As Dean points out:
‘The other meta-problem comes from how to know when to switch from carrier-WIFI mode to multi-stakeholder WIFI mode as you enter or exit a venue. Linked to all this is a rather thorny issue of pricing and perceived value.’
For me, it’s important to note that whatever the segmentation of indoor/outdoor access, it’s in the operator’s interest to provide customers with the best available data connection at all times, be it LTE/3G or over WIFI, whichever brings the best user experience. To achieve this, at Gemalto, we’re proposing a solution for operators to switch a customer from an MNO wireless network to a specific WIFI one, or vice versa, while at all times staying connected and identified to the operator’s network via SIM authentication.
Whether operators should take any financial reward from controlling the connection of their subscribers or not, it seems that by guaranteeing the best available data connection, they can guarantee the satisfaction of their subscribers. Ultimately, by providing secure access to their services, even over WIFI, operators can maintain customer loyalty.
But don’t just take my word for it. Gemalto has been nominated for the best LTE security product at the LTE World Summit 2013, currently taking place in Amsterdam, for facilitating trust and convenience in the mobile sector. Are you at the conference? Share your thoughts on the future of LTE with us below.