By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
As we say goodbye to 2018, another great year for Wi-Fi beckons: The New Year will without a doubt be pivotal for the Wi-Fi industry on multiple levels – and as the wireless world turns, a plethora of new opportunities will appear on the not too distant horizon. Here are six big themes we will be focusing on throughout the year via our media, event, and promotional work.
The launch of Wi-Fi 6
It has been a long time coming but we have no doubt that the performance and use-case potential of Wi-Fi 6 will more than make up for the wait. We expect the first device clients to be released in 1H2019 and after that we predict a new surge of Wi-Fi industry growth. We will be digging in and supporting all the emerging Wi-Fi 6 opportunities right here – so keep reading and following all our channels for Wi-Fi 6 updates and information in 2019.
Smart Wi-Fi-connected homes & smart living
There are a lot of names for residential (or MDU) Wi-Fi-based technology these days but one thing is for sure: Home Wi-Fi and associated technologies was the run-away biggest Wi-Fi business opportunity of 2018. And since we are only a few percent up the adoption S-curve there is plenty more to come in 2019. Ai-based IoT, intelligent management software, PLC, mesh, pods, whatever the home Wi-Fi tech: Consumers will want more of it in 2019.
6 GHz for Wi-Fi: A wireless windfall
As an odd but fortuitous side-effect of the ‘race to 5G’ in the US, the FCC is on track to release up to 1.2 GHz more spectrum to Wi-Fi perhaps already by the end of 2019. This new regulation would more than double the amount of spectrum available to Wi-Fi in the US and without a doubt spark another surge of growth across the world of unlicensed wireless. We will be doing everything in our power to help make it happen – and you can of course follow all the action here.
A pivotal year for free Wi-Fi in Europe
The EU has already given away €42M in free Wi-Fi grants to 2,800 municipalities across Europe and in 2019 the grant giveaway bonanza continues. We still do not know how all of this will pan out in the end but we are doing our best to make sure that the money is well spent by the EU’s taxpayers. We will also be supporting initiatives underway from the EC to create a critical common roaming and authentication platform for the new WiFi4EU free services.
Connecting the unconnected
This is a subject close to our hearts and we will – as always – be showcasing and supporting great examples of using Wi-Fi and unlicensed bands to build affordable connectivity across the world. Like many of our partners we believe that we are close to being able to connect every village on Earth not by charity but as sustainable business cases. We like that idea because access to the Internet is tantamount to lifting millions out of poverty.
60 GHz unlicensed continues to grow
Unlicensed 60 GHz backhaul at fibre-like speeds is a massive global opportunity in the making and in 2019 we will see even more growth in this segment. The technology being developed at a rapid clip means city and suburban gigabit networks can be built at a tiny fraction of the cost of fibre. From Facebook’s much-publicised Terragraph to lesser-known but as effective super low-cost solution provider IgniteNet: 60 GHz will be big in 2019.
And don’t forget: We have all of TWO major Wi-Fi industry events in the pipeline for this spring: If you’re in APAC, don’t miss our Wi-Fi NOW APAC event in Shanghai colocated with the Wi-Fi Alliance Asia Member Meeting – and of course we’ll be going to Washington DC this May to celebrate 20 years of Wi-Fi.