New research from the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) reveals that 57% of operators intend to roll out carrier-grade Wi-Fi at some point. In addition, the research showed that by 2020, 80% of respondents plan to have deployments in the areas of IoT/M2M, and more than half already have plans for converged services and Smart Cities.
The research is contained in the latest annual report published today (12 October 2015) by the WBA, the industry association focused on driving next generation Wi-Fi and its role in public Wi-Fi services, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, converged services, Smart Cities and 5G. The report was compiled by global research company Maravedis-Rethink.
This year’s survey also highlighted that, as confidence grows in carrier-grade Wi-Fi, the shift away from best effort networks will continue to gather speed. At current growth the report estimates that carrier-grade hotspots will outnumber best effort in the installed base by the end of 2017.
By 2020, only a small legacy base of best effort hotspots will remain – less than 10% of the total – with all new deployments being carrier-grade or better. Such findings indicate how rapidly the Wi-Fi services landscape is changing, driven by the new business imperatives which are the baseline for further innovation and deployments, the WBA said.
“Increased operator confidence in carrier grade Wi-Fi technology has led to a surge in the growth of deployments over the past 12 months and set a trend that will to continue. Within five years there will be as much as a 70% rise in the number of carrier-grade public Wi-Fi hotspots deployed, vastly outnumbering current best effort,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the WBA.
“These shifts mean that the themes of the WBA’s Vision 2020 are equally applicable to all the ecosystem’s stakeholders; accelerating development of relevant technologies to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape; diversifying in time with the changing face of the Wi-Fi ecosystem; and increasing investment in development, testing and deployments to continue the push towards Wi-Fi ubiquity, unlicensed wireless, IoT, 5G and beyond.”
Caroline Gabriel, research director, Maravedis-Rethink, said: “This year’s survey has demonstrated a growing momentum within the ecosystem away from talking about the benefits of carrier-grade to actually realising its potential in high-growth areas such as IoT and Smart Cities via deployment.
“Next Generation Hotspot and Passpoint technology have been fundamental enablers in the transition to carrier-grade Wi-Fi and as investment increases so the potential returns will grow as new revenue streams develop.”
The report also discovered the growing use of Wi-Fi as a strategic platform by an increasing variety of service providers including pure-plays, aggregators, MNOs, MSOs and vertical market operators.
In 2015, almost one-quarter of the business value of Wi-Fi relates to reduced costs and overall ARPU improvement, but by 2019 these companies expect to be harnessing Wi-Fi, often in combination with their own networks, to generate incremental revenues directly.
The biggest opportunities are seen in smart cities, Wi-Fi First and multi-play bundles including everywhere access to content and applications.
The survey, carried out during Q3 2015, had a total of 212 respondents: 38% of those being operators. Other significant respondent groups were Wi-Fi equipment and device vendors, with 28% and consultants/integrators, 17%. The majority of responses came from North America (40%) and Europe (26%), followed by Asia-Pacific (16%).
To download the full report please go to: http://www.wballiance.com/resource-center/wba-industry-report/