Wi-Fi has emerged as the primary network in enterprise environments in 2013, as businesses increasingly adopt smartphones and tablets, according to Wi-Fi vendor Ruckus Wireless. The demand for enterprise Wi-Fi has gone through the roof, with companies rolling out their Bring-Your-Own-Device initiatives and new innovative technologies coming to market.
Salah Nassar, senior manager, enterprise product marketing at Ruckus Wireless, expects to see the following trends in 2014:
Enterprise adopts 802.11ac
802.11ac is all the rage, and rightfully so. It represents another fundamental change in the innovation of the 802.11 protocol that promises to boost speeds into the gigabit world. In 2014, 802.11ac Access Point (AP) adoption will increase, mainly driven by more 802.11ac-enabled devices, and as vendors release lower cost 2x2 802.11ac APs.
An optimised 802.11ac infrastructure will depend on solid wireless fundamentals, thoughtful radio design, smart antenna systems, and dynamic RF adaptation.
Cloud solutions for SMEs
Small and medium-sized enterprises are up against it when it comes to deploying a robust wireless LAN (WLAN), as they have little (if any) IT staff available, and tight budgets. Up to now, SMEs have had two choices; high-end, costly and complex enterprise WLAN systems or affordable but featureless consumer-grade Wi-Fi, there has been very little in-between.
In 2014, Cloud solutions for Wi-Fi management and services will continue to provide 'out of reach' enterprise technology for the average SME. While it will continue to offer a good plug-and-play deployment model for remote sites and remote employees, it won’t be cost-effective enough for most SMEs.
Wi-Fi based location analytics
Location-based services technologies have received a lot of attention in the enterprise world in 2013 driven by the fact that so many people now have multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.
The full spectrum of businesses, from retail, hospitality and even healthcare are now in the process of developing a new range of location-based service models. In 2014, Wi-Fi based location analytics will play a bigger role for organisations to increase business intelligence, define security policy, and improve customer/user Wi-Fi experience.
Expect Wi-Fi to provide much more than Internet access. As the trend matures, users will begin looking for site/venue-specific apps when they arrive at the venue.
Hotspot 2.0 and Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint
Throughout 2013, Hotspot 2.0 has been developed and promoted predominately by carriers and equipment suppliers. In 2014 we expect it to gain traction in the Enterprise, as another means to provide Wi-Fi access, and turn the WLAN into a profit centre.
Since operators want the Wi-Fi network access, the real opportunity will emerge for any enterprise or venue owner to wholesale their existing wireless LAN capacity to operators; charging them recurring fees for that access.
Enterprise WLANs involve large capital and operational expenses and Hotspot 2.0 offers enterprises the chance to gain a return on the investment and to secure an on-going revenue stream.
Wi-Fi gets social
Social media applications, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, have increasingly permeated almost every interaction we make online in our everyday lives. More services, applications and subscriptions are either encouraging or, in some cases, requiring you to sign up using your social media identity.
In 2014, we will see this extend to Wi-Fi and become pervasive among organisations providing guest access, allowing users to log-in to the network using their social credentials.