It is hard to argue with your assessment. The application aware network is already a reality with high-performance eGGSNs supported by dynamic policy control. The network can now identify the application and make some suitable decision about what to do with. Options might include blocking, rate limiting, passing it all through, etc. (peer-to-peer is an app that usually requires special treatment). It would be even better if a mechanism existed to push this traffic off onto a less expensive network like Wi-Fi, but it isn’t clear how the network could make this happen short of dropping the user. It has always sounded like something that is easier done by an application aware connection manager in the device. Possibly at the request of the network. Since Wi-Fi will do most of the heavy lifting in the mobile Internet, it might be worthwhile to draw up a list of everything that needs to happen to offer the best possible user experience in a dual-mode mobile device. Such a list would include at a minimum: 1) 802.11u to help the mobile device to determine the capabilities of a Wi-Fi network pre-association. 2) A solution to the Wi-Fi roaming problem. It is certainly possible for 802.11u to advertise any roaming agreements (pre-association) which would be of great value to the user, but I think more is needed. 3) What is the best approach to the power control problem associated with running TWO radios at the same time. 4) Session persistence as the user begins to move about and loses their Wi-Fi signal. What is really needed here? Which applications will break and which are ok when their IP point-of-attachment changes. Do we really need to add a lot of complexity here? 5) What capabilities are required in our dual-mode connection manager. Certainly an understanding of the needs of various applications running on the device. 6) Exactly what is the role of the operator in moving users on and off Wi-Fi networks that they don’t necessarily control. 7) And much more no doubt One final thought. Do operators really need to be in the Wi-Fi infrastructure business? I’ve long been of the opinion that they don’t, but now I’m not so sure. AT&T with almost 9 million iPhones is now a BIG believer in Wi-Fi and has accumulated significant Wi-Fi assets through their Wayport acquisition. Is this going to be the future for all mobile operators?
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The rise of the mobile Internet represents enormous scaling challenges for mobile operators. This paper takes a look at the role that Wi-Fi and Femtocells will play in meeting this challenge. They both have a lot to offer, and the mobile Internet user experience will be greatly enhanced by leveraging their unique strengths. Steve Hratko SMBU Group Cisco
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