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Deutsche Telekom Joins Rush to WiFi Offload

LONDON -- Open Mobile Summit -- Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)'s WiFi offload strategy is well underway for iPhone users in Germany, according to the operator's CTO, Olivier Baujard, who keynoted this morning at the Open Mobile Summit.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Baujard told Light Reading Mobile that the operator would like to offload 20 percent of its cellular data traffic in an outdoor environment onto WiFi hotspots, and that it is now offloading just "a few percents" of its traffic. (See Olivier Baujard, CTO, Deutsche Telekom.)

When Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone users are at home, Baujard noted, the data traffic is "100 percent" offloaded onto WiFi. "At home, users disappear from the cellular network."

Deutsche Telekom's iPhone users in Germany are automatically connected to WiFi when the devices detect a WiFi hotspot. Baujard explained that users just need to log in once on their home WiFi connection or at a public hotspot to activate the system.

The operator plans to increase its WiFi footprint across all its markets, and as this feature is added to more smartphones, the operator will be able to offload more mobile data traffic onto WiFi, according to Baujard.

Deutsche Telekom is the latest operator to reveal how it is leaning on WiFi to alleviate capacity on its 3G networks. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) announced yesterday a pilot of a public WiFi hotspot in New York to ease traffic constraints on its 3G network. (See MWC Preview: Data Offload to the Rescue.)

According to the new Heavy Reading paper, "WiFi Offload for Mobile Operators," operators that bundle WiFi hotspot access with mobile data packages include AT&T, France Telecom's Orange SA , Telefónica UK Ltd. , Verizon Wireless , and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD).

"Over the past three years, mobile operator views on WiFi technology have fundamentally shifted from a position of hostile objection to passive acceptance, and now active engagement," says Heavy Reading senior analyst Gabriel Brown, the author of the report.

"WiFi is only one part of managing capacity and traffic growth," says Brown. "It has loads of potential, but there are issues as well."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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