A recent research report published by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) uncovered an unprecedented growth of global public Wi-Fi hotspot deployments which is predicted to rise 350% by 2015. A finding that will surely broaden the smile of Wi-Fi gear makers and solution providers.
The key factor behind the deployment activity has been found to be the current and expected growth of mobile data traffic. Global mobile data traffic is expected to reach 16.84 million terabytes by 2014 which is below 5 million Terabytes now. The fact that a large percentage of today’s mobile broadband users now encompass Wi-Fi hotspot connections (36%of Wi-Fi connections are from smartphones), opens the opportunity to provide better service by offloading congested mobile data traffic to Wi-Fi.
According to the report, 58% of operators – including 47% mobile operators – consider Wi-Fi hotspots to be very important or crucial to enhance their customers’ experience; offload busy mobile broadband networks; and provide a value-added services platform. According to industry data many operators are already operating a large number of Wi-Fi hotspots and some are planning aggressively to expand. As new service models grow the rest will follow.
However, to offer a seamless user experience to consumers many challenges will have to be addressed. For the Wi-Fi community, ‘these include cumbersome authentication procedures, the costs to access the networks, user discovery of available networks and security.’ For the carriers, the issues will be seamless access and charging. In the meantime, the mobile device makers will have a find to way to cope with the power hungriness of Wi-Fi chips.
But, whatever obstacles may come, the Wi-Fi gear makers – from chip makers to equipment manufacturers – will enjoy brisk business over the next couple of years.
For the enthusiasts – you can access the WBA report from here.