Managed Wi-Fi Service: How Big an Opportunity?

Consumer interest in managed Wi-Fi services represents a $6.7 billion missed opportunity for service providers globally, a new study from XCellAir suggests. That includes up to $3.3 billion in incremental revenue, as well as $3.4 billion in lower operating costs (fewer customer service interactions and truck rolls).

Data from a new survey of 1,000 consumers each in the United States and United Kingdom reveals that on average, 15 percent of consumers say they would be willing to pay for managed Wi-Fi service from their service provider or a third party, and are willing to pay $34 per year for such managed services.

Presumably, the main problem consumers experience is “coverage.”

The XCellAir Home Wi-Fi Advisor service for ISPs has in the past found that the average household typically is a single family of three people, with 14 internet connected devices.

The average home has two floors, with the majority keeping their primary Wi-Fi router on the first or ground floor.

While the average Wi-Fi speed need for a household is 23 Mbps, the peak speed needed to support all devices within the home is 40 Mbps.

Taking into consideration the number of people, devices, and size of home, the average household requires 2.6 access points in order to have complete Wi-Fi coverage throughout the home, XCellAir argues. So, presumably, the big advantage of a managed service is placing and monitoring the performance of multiple Wi-Fi base stations or repeaters.

As Wi-Fi suppliers increasingly market systems capable of such management, on their own, it is not so clear that the service opportunity is so much the solution as the diagnosis.

The consumer study, carried out in December 2016, found that 50 percent of consumers blame their internet service provider for problems with their Wi-Fi, regardless of who provided their router.

Despite 18 percent of consumers blaming their Wi-Fi equipment when service falters, as many as 39 percent of consumers would still call their ISP to assist with troubleshooting faults or problems.

The survey also revealed that as many as 89 percent of consumers have completely unmanaged Wi-Fi, yet there is notable appetite for managed and paid-for services from their ISP or other third party.

Some 80 percent of consumers surveyed experienced at least some issues with their Wi-Fi, with 31 percent experiencing occasional or frequent Wi-Fi problems.

As many as 19 percent of users in the United States, and 10 percent of respondents  in the United Kingdom, said they were willing to pay their service provider or a third party technical services firm, such as Geek Squad or Knowhow, to manage their Wi-Fi for them.

The mean (arithmetic average) fee per month that consumers are willing to pay for managed Wi-Fi in the US was nearly $4 per month, with six percent indicating they were willing to pay as much as $15 or more. In the United Kingdom, the mean fee was £1.49, with six percent willing to pay up to £4 per month.

Some 74 percent of consumers get their Wi-Fi equipment from an ISP.
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