Among the findings:
- WiFi is critical to service provider growth strategies: 89% of all service providers surveyed (including fixed, mobile and cable) have either deployed, or plan to deploy or leverage, WiFi networks. On average, respondents ranked WiFi's importance as 7+ out of 10.
- Service differentiation is the top driver for WiFi: 40% of service providers cited service differentiation as the No. 1 driver for their WiFi strategies.
- Providing a seamless subscriber experience between cellular and WiFi networks was weighted strongly (average score: 8.1 out of 10) by service providers. However, user authentication ranked highest among the top technical barriers to deploying WiFi.
- Roaming is a priority: On average, WiFi roaming - while still a relatively immature market - was ranked 8 out of 10 in terms of strategic importance.
- New monetization models needed: 57% of service providers who have deployed WiFi claim they are monetizing their offerings, but the survey also found that many of them are looking for models that go beyond directly charging customers (who typically equate WiFi with free Internet access).
- First-mover advantage is critical: Capturing key strategic locations for WiFi hotspots before they are claimed by competitors is a key objective for many service providers. Even "build-only" service providers will need to partner to capture these key sites.
The survey is based on telephone interviews with decision-makers at more than 30 service providers globally, including North America, Caribbean and Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. The research was conducted in October 2012.