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Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Wayne Ariola, Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg

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May I Borrow A Cup of Wi-Fi?


At one time the knock on the door was a friend or neighbor looking to borrow a cup of sugar or the hedge trimmer.  They may still be looking for those things, but increasingly they are also looking to connect up to our home networks when they come to visit.  People are now carrying with them an average of 2.6 mobile devices according to recent mobile research by Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group.  And people want to make sure that these devices are connected to the Internet.  Often the first question following the pleasantries when friends and families enter our homes is can I use your Wi-Fi network to connect my smartphone, tablet, laptop or other new mobile device?  Mobile users are now expecting that their friend’s and neighbor’s homes will have Wi-Fi, just like they have electricity and running water. 


The value of “community Wi-Fi” is being recognized by a number of organizations. One is Fon, who has created a shared open-source network of more than 7 million hotspots around the world that community members can use for free. Another is BT, who has incorporated the Fon application and model into its home broadband service. This approach enables BT to provide broadband customers free access to the global Fon network, while expanding its U.K. hotspot network to more than 4 million sites—so, now friends and family members who are also BT customers can seamlessly authenticate and join the host’s home network.

The benefits of community Wi-Fi are becoming increasingly apparent to other service providers.  By extending the network through their own customers not only do they rapidly expand the size of that network, but they create a compelling “friends and family” world that helps in new customer acquisition and retention of existing customers.  Equally, community Wi-Fi allows SPs to differentiate their broadband offers from competitors and potentially extract a premium for their service. 


Many service providers are now trying to understand how they can create a community Wi-Fi network amongst their broadband customers and reap these new business benefits.  Recent research on Community Wi-Fi by Cisco IBSG revealed some very interesting findings into the needs and behaviors, current and future mobile usage, and the average profile of community Wi-Fi users. Approximately 40 percent of mobile device owners are “community” users. Compared with other mobile users, community users are technically advanced, own more sophisticated devices, and use these devices up to twice as often as mobile users. The community segment is also significant to SPs: this group is younger, wealthier, and willing to spend more money on mobile services.

These and other research findings from the survey can help SPs understand the size of the opportunity, develop strategies for success, acquire new customers and retain existing ones, and differentiate their community Wi-Fi offerings and initiatives from those of their competitors, extracting a premium for their service. 


The complete results can be found at “May I Borrow A Cup of Wi-Fi?”


About the Author

Stuart Taylor's further industry research, insights, and perspectives can be found at his blog, The Connected Life

Follow Stuart Taylor on Twitter: @STaylorCisco

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Deborah Strickland

The articles presented here are blog posts from members of our Service Provider Mobility community. Deborah Strickland is a Web and Social Media Program Manager at Cisco. Follow us on Twitter @CiscoSPMobility.

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