Carriers Should Make Peace with Wi-Fi Before It Outpaces Cellular
By Eric Lin, Thu Apr 08 21:30:00 GMT 2004

Carriers may not know what to do with Wi-Fi, but they better do something according to a new report due from Pyramid Research.

A week ago Infonetics released a study revealing that although carriers want to integrate Wi-Fi into their services, they aren't sure how to address it. Mobile Pipeline previewed another report on carriers and Wi-Fi this week from Pyramid Research. While Infonetics looks at Wi-Fi from the carriers' current quandary, Pyramid approaches Wi-Fi from device trends.

Pyramid predicts that Wi-Fi users will outnumber cellular data (2G through 3G) by 2007. If carriers want to be competitive, it will be difficult to survive, or better yet to dominate without addressing the large number of Wi-Fi devices. The report gives credit to T-Mobile, who has a healthy Wi-Fi infrastructure in the US and parts of Europe. While they cannot find any direct link between T-Mobile's Wi-Fi and subscriber growth or retention, the Pyramid Group do believe it contributes.

Like Infonetics, and other cases we mentioned last week, Pyramid points out that the toughest issue is balance. Most carriers are not balancing their offerings, instead positioning their data services as competition to Wi-Fi. As we pointed out last week, the two are not mutually exclusive and it would serve carriers best to address both. Why is it that somehow wireless standards are pitted in competition with each other: Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi vs. Cellular, when in reality they are not designed to compete or displace each other?