Managed Networks are the new normal, and Wi-Fi already enables a range of 5G scenarios. What’s next? Faster, better, and more secure connections.
That’s what Kevin Robinson, VP of Marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance, says about this exciting time for the industry. Robinson spoke about the growth potential for Wi-Fi at this year’s Wi-Fi NOW Europe in The Hague.
“Wi-Fi really is one of the most ubiquitous technologies you have ever seen, right up there with the FM radio,” he says.
According to Robinson, more than 8 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices are now in active use. All this traffic means that Managed Networks are a new normal. User-demand for always-on connectivity at home and in hotels, stadiums, shopping malls, and transport hubs means that service providers and venue owners want to offer their own Wi-Fi networks for better control and the ability to differentiate user experiences.
It’s a growth market. Hotspots are expected to grow six-fold from 2016-2021. For 2016-2021, expected annual growth levels in shipments of Wi-Fi enabled devices include:
- Home automation systems – 34%
- Smart Appliances 104%
- Wearables 50%
- Healthcare devices 63%
An Alliance for Wi-Fi’s future
Wi-Fi Alliance is the worldwide network of companies that brings you Wi-Fi, working in collaboration to drive the interoperability, adoption, and evolution of Wi-Fi globally. With 750+ members, Wi-Fi Alliance defines innovative, standards-based Wi-Fi technologies and programs, certifies products that meet quality, performance, security, and capability standards, provides industry thought leadership, and advocates globally for fair spectrum rules.
Now, Robinson says the alliance is working toward higher performance, better mobility, and building-wide coverage for new homes.
One new application includes pre-installation of Wi-Fi during the home construction process. In the US, the nation’s largest homebuilder now offers Wi-Fi integration in every home they sell.
“Just like your lighting and electricity, Wi-Fi is going to be a core element in those homes,” says Robinson.
Wi-Fi and 5G
According to Robinson, Wi-Fi already enables a range of 5G scenarios including:
- Multi-gigabit performance
- Increased network capacity through densification
- Store and compute easily at the edge
- High-performance voice and video
- Point-to-point alternative to fiber
Wi-Fi hasn’t hit its peak, says Robinson. It is a huge player in the next generation of connectivity because of its ubiquity, global availability and accessibility, robust range, is versatility, and cost-effectiveness.
“We are very uniquely suited in the trade-off between performance and cost in a way that very few other technologies can match,” he says.