KDDI makes Wi-Fi major component of mobile broadband network
Using Ruckus gear, KDDI is deploying a 100,000-access point Wi-Fi data offload network
Carrier Wi-Fi may be moving slowly in the U.S., but if mobile operators want to see how a large-scale mobile data offload network is done, they need only to look across the Pacific. Japanese CDMA operator KDDI is rolling out the mother of all Wi-Fi networks, deploying 10,000 access points initially with plans to scale to 100,000 access points in nine months.
KDDI is using Ruckus Wireless’s long-range, high-powered Wi-Fi gear, specifically optimized to augment mobile networks. The distinction is important because KDDI isn’t deploying the typical hotspot network covering cafes and airports, but an indoor and outdoor one designed to blanket with extra capacity high-traffic areas of its 3G and mobile broadband networks. KDDI’s Android smartphones will automatically log into the access points when available, routing huge volumes of data traffic off the wide area network, with its high operational costs and limited bandwidth, onto the unlicensed spectrum and then UQ Communications’ WiMAX network, which KDDI will use as backhaul.
U.S. operators have been gradually utilizing Wi-Fi as a mobile data offload technology. Verizon Wireless plans to use Wi-Fi in to offload traffic in a few limited high-congestion areas, such as stadiums (CP: Verizon to offload 3G/4G data through free Wi-Fi hotspots). T-Mobile hasn’t deployed any hotspots of its own, but is relying heavily on its customers home Wi-Fi and abundantly available free public Wi-Fi to ease voice and data traffic burdens (Unfiltered: T-Mobile quietly builds up its Wi-Fi offload operation). But the most aggressive U.S. operator is AT&T, which is not only leveraging its 24,000-access point indoor hotspot network, but deploying outdoor access points in crowded public spaces such as New York’s Times Square for the sole purpose of relieving its high-speed packet access (HSPA) networks (CP: AT&T now has 460 mobile data offload points in NYC).
But to put KDDI’s launch in perspective, 100,000 access points will give the carrier a Wi-Fi node for every 320 customers. AT&T has a Wi-Fi access node for every 4063 customers. The sheer density of KDDI’s deployment assures that Wi-Fi will become a major component of its mobile data networking strategy, rather than a mere supplementary technology.
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