AT&T boosts Wi-Fi offload with Boingo - Mobile World Live

AT&T boosts Wi-Fi offload with Boingo

20 FEB 2019

AT&T extended a Wi-Fi roaming agreement with Boingo Wireless as part of a move to manage rapidly growing data traffic on its network.

Boingo CEO David Hagan told Mobile World Live (MWL) a previous agreement between the pair connected AT&T to its Wi-Fi service in a handful of locations, but noted the operator will now have access to the “vast majority” of its Passpoint-certified network. Specifically, the new deal covers more than 80 sites including military bases, airports, stadiums and shopping centres.

Passpoint is a standard developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance which makes Wi-Fi more like cellular connectivity, allowing users to connect to networks automatically and securely.

In a statement, AT&T VP of tower strategy and roaming JR Wilson said the expansion is “part of AT&T’s strategic network management initiatives that help accommodate rising mobile data traffic”, which on its network has grown more than 470,000 per cent since 2007.

Data demand
Wilson told MWL AT&T “will continue to find ways to meet this demand” through a combination of network enhancements and third-party agreements. He added Wi-Fi offload is a particularly valuable tool for serving high-density venues during the busiest times of day.

“To me it is not really an either-or choice, but rather a both-and approach that will be needed to meet the demand for data especially in these types of high-density venues.”

Hagan said data demand is impacting operators across the board, but added Wi-Fi offload offers a cost-effective option to manage the crush: “The price-per-bit on a Wi-Fi network is so much less expensive than on cellular technology that it’s kind of crazy that the carriers have not embraced it sooner.”

The CEO said Boingo already has similar Passpoint deals with Sprint and cable-operator Charter Communications, and ultimately expects all four tier-one US operators will ink offload agreements.

In a recent report, Cisco predicted 59 per cent of mobile data traffic will be offloaded to Wi-Fi by 2022, compared with 54 per cent in 2017.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana joins Mobile World Live as its new US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana comes to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and...

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