By Alex Braelow
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) recently wrapped up their latest and greatest Wireless Global Congress event in London. Before they did so, they had some inspiring words for folks in attendance and those across the industry. These words came courtesy of their Annual Industry Report for 2019, which illustrated many promising Wi-Fi related trends.
Here’s the headline. The Wi-Fi industry is evolving at breakneck speed. The technology is improving rapidly, and governments all over the world are on track to free up staggering chunks of unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. As a result, Wi-Fi is expected to begin fulfilling some of its most anticipated promises. Specifically, those regarding the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G integration.
The net result of this, as the WBA’s report indicates, is a whopping 51% increase in Wi-Fi investment confidence.
The report, which was authored by Monica Paolini, the Founder and President of Senza Fili Consulting, made a number of predictions for the year to come. These include a push in millimeter wave adoption with WiGig in the 60 GHz band, a boost in IoT activity, new unlicensed spectrum allocations at the 6 GHz band in the US, and further growth in Wi-Fi roaming now that Passpoint is becoming mainstream.
In addition, the report made the following observations:
- Wi-Fi is doing a lot of work. In the United States it carries 67% of mobile device traffic. In Japan, that figure rises to 83%.
- Wi-Fi 6 is on its way. Prestandard equipment, as well as limited commercial deployments, are already relatively common. The WBA expects wider commercial availability in 2019, and final standard specifications by the fourth quarter of the same year.
- Next Generation Hotspot and Passpoint saw an adoption breakthrough in 2018. This is due in no small part to companies like AT&T, Charter, Boingo Wireless, SoftBank, Sprint, and T-Mobile strengthening their commitments to the technology.
Tiago Rodrigues, general manager of the WBA, had this to say:
“Our latest report shows the significant progress that the industry has made to the adoption of NGH Passpoint—which is an important validation of our work with our members and partners to support new use cases and business models. We look forward to working together to drive this trend forward into the future.”
“Furthermore, next year all eyes will be on Wi-Fi 6 as the standard approaches ratification, marking a step-change in Wi-Fi capabilities and services. This will be a priority for us, particularly in terms of driving coexistence between licenced and unlicensed technologies to improve the delivery of better services to the end-user.”