However, a key problem with current Wi-Fi offload solutions is the lack of integration between the cellular network and the carrier W-Fi networks. This means that operators have little control over their subscribers offloading behaviour or the quality of their Wi-Fi experience. Users must often know that Wi-Fi provided by their operator is available in that location and must manually select it. This results in a lot of missed offload opportunities and greatly reduces the utility of operator Wi-Fi deployments.
In other cases a user’s device will often automatically select the available operator Wi-Fi network regardless of whether the user is briefly passing through a Wi-Fi coverage area or will receive good QoE. This often results in dropped connections, interrupted services and an extremely frustrating customer experience.
Providing the operator with the ability to manage their customers Wi-Fi offloading decisions is key to providing a high quality customer experience and maximising the utility of the Wi-Fi infrastructure investment.
The 3GPP defined Access Network Selection and Discovery Function (ANDSF) addresses this problem by providing mobile devices with information about available Wi-Fi networks and with the credentials and ability to automatically connect. It can be seen as extending policy control beyond the core network and out to the mobile device. It enables mobile devices to automatically select specific Wi-Fi networks based on operator defined policies which can include validity criteria such as the device location, Cell ID and time of day. ANDSF also allows a mobile device to connect to both Wi-Fi and cellular networks simultaneously and gives the operator the ability to direct specific traffic flows over different access networks.
Openet’s end-to-end client and server ANDSF solution goes beyond standard ANDSF and provides integration with other network elements such as the Subscriber Profile Repository (SPR), Online Charging System (OCS), and Policy Charging and Rules Function (PCRF) to enable more dynamic network selection policies and a host of new use cases. The Openet ANDSF solution enables an operator to integrate Wi-Fi offload decisions with a wealth of other information. These can include subscriber and plan information, current credit and top ups, core network policy decisions, data usage and much more. The solution is also enhanced with analytics capabilities which give vital feedback to mobile operators about the performance of their Wi-Fi network and the QoE being experienced by customers on a per access point and per client basis.
For more information on Wi-Fi please click here to download the Openet Guidebook: Wi-Fi: Intelligent Offload – Managing and Controlling Wi-Fi Customer Experience