Operators missing out from consumer demand from managed Wi-Fi

Operators that miss the opportunity to charge subscribers for managed Wi-Fi will miss out on billions of dollars by 2020.

This is the conclusion of new market research by XCellAir, a Wi-Fi quality of experience (QoE) business.

Consumer interest in managed Wi-Fi services represents a $6.7 billion missed opportunity for service providers globally.

Data from a 1,000 consumers each in the US and UK reveals that on average, 15% of consumers would be willing to pay for their Wi-Fi service to be managed by their service provider or a third party.

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Furthermore, they would be willing to pay on average $34 per year for such managed services.

This $6.7 billion opportunity comes from revenue lost from consumers willing to pay for managed Wi-Fi services, as well as OPEX savings from a reduction in helpline calls and engineer visits.

Using industry forecasts for installed Wi-Fi and the number of consumers willing to pay for managed Wi-Fi services, XCellAir calculates that service providers could miss out on $3.3 billion in additional revenue in 2018.

OPEX savings from managed services, based on the average cost of customer helpline calls and truck rolls to configure or repair access points, could reach as much as $3.4 billion.

“With Wi-Fi fast becoming the consumer’s preferred choice for connectivity, internet service providers need to ensure they are doing their utmost to meet service requirements. Our research reveals that there is nascent demand for managed Wi-Fi services, demand that they’re also willing to pay for,” said Todd Mersch, co-founder and executive vice president of sales and marketing, XCellAir.

“Against a backdrop of new uses for domestic Wi-Fi, from streaming media to smart home devices, it is remarkable that almost everyone surveyed had completely unmanaged Wi-Fi. Consumers are going to look to ISPs to provide and manage their Wi-Fi as more connected devices fill the home.”

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The consumer study, carried out in December 2016, sought to determine the extent to which consumers in the UK and the US have an acceptable Wi-Fi experience in the home, who they hold responsible for their experience, and potential demand for paid-for managed Wi-Fi services.

The survey revealed significant consumer reliance on their ISPs: 50% of consumers blame their internet service provider for problems with their Wi-Fi, regardless of who provided their router.

Despite 18% of consumers blaming their Wi-Fi equipment when service falters, as many as 39% of consumers would still call their ISP to assist with troubleshooting faults or problems.

The survey also revealed that as many as 89% of consumers have completely unmanaged Wi-Fi, yet there is notable appetite for managed and paid-for services from their ISP or other third party: 80% of consumers surveyed experienced at least some issues with their Wi-Fi, with almost a third (31%) experiencing occasional or frequent Wi-Fi problems.

As many as 19% of users in the US, and 10% in the UK, are willing to pay their service provider or a third party technical services firm, such as Geek Squad or Knowhow, to manage their Wi-Fi for them.

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The mean fee per month that consumers are willing to pay for managed Wi-Fi in the US was nearly $4 per month, with 6% willing to pay as much as $15 or more. In the UK, the mean fee was £1.49, with 6% willing to pay up to £4 per month.

“Our survey revealed that the majority – 74% – of consumers get their Wi-Fi equipment from an ISP, but we have seen a raft of new home Wi-Fi systems which offer self-management features, such as Plume, Eero and Luma,” continued Mersch.

However, the “responses strongly suggest that consumers are reliant on their ISPs, no matter where fault lies when things go wrong. ISPs have a golden chance to capture Wi-Fi management as a service for their customers from which they stand to benefit financially, as well as in goodwill towards their brand”.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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