The race to the bottom continues for LTE operators, who, due to market forces, are impelled to offer bigger data bundles for lower prices. Meanwhile, Wi-Fi companies are finding that they’re spending more on equipment than they’re taking in through Wi-Fi revenues. The solution (perhaps): the LTE and Wi-Fi guys getting together and forming roaming partnerships.
Roaming partnerships, in this scenario, make use of two technologies: LTE-AAA, and LWA. LTE-AAA small cells are cheaper, per bit, than macro LTE sectors, and can replace Wi-Fi (that users won’t pay for) with a different flavor of LTE that’s very reliable and (for Wi-Fi carriers) potentially profitable. On the other side, LWA (LTE Wi-Fi Aggregation), which allows for wider use of Wi-Fi networks when LTE isn’t available, can be used by LTE operators in lieu of building out expensive LTE coverage.