WiFi – the next great disruptor?

Could Wi-Fi be the game changer when it comes to who yields the most power in the mobile space?

In the US and Europe Wi-Fi hotspots are commonplace. Fixed and mobile providers offer them as a way of enabling customers to download more data without swamping their networks. Here in Australia a faster LTE deployment has meant there is more than enough capacity, for now. But what when it becomes a scarcer resource – will they turn to Wi-Fi hotspots to do some of the heavy lifting?

Cisco’s Dr Robert Pepper thinks that it’s inevitable. But what if another service provider – an MVNO – gets there first? With a bout of Wi-Fi construction lately, you could be mistaken for thinking that was part of iiNet’s plan, but they have been quick to deny it. Still, Colin Griffith from the CSIRO, the birthplace of Wi-Fi, says the technology is rife for market disruption.

Scratch Wireless is a prime example. Use one of their mobile phones to make a call and it’ll hunt for a Wi-Fi network and, if one is available, will make your call for free. Their premise is, everything else you send across Wi-Fi is free, so why shouldn’t your mobile phone calls?

So, whether it’s MVNOs trying to divert voice traffic or data to WiiFi, the outcome is the same – lost revenue for the carriers. Unless they play a defensive strategy and get there first.

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