2014 was a monumental year for Wi-Fi – the wireless technology celebrated 15 years, carried more than 42 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic and 90 percent of the world’s tablet traffic, and connected users to more than 47 million public hotspots worldwide. Wi-Fi is on a path to provide seamless Wi-Fi virtually everywhere, and is pushing the limits of what wireless technology has traditionally offered.
With input from representatives from our member companies, Wi-Fi Alliance® has developed a list of fifteen predictions for the coming year that proves Wi-Fi has evolved into much more than a mode of connectivity to the internet.
Wi-Fi’s fifteen for ’15:
Higher-performance, more capable Wi-Fi steps into the spotlight:
- A performance boost for Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi performance will continue to improve in 2015, with Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac becoming mainstream and including advanced features. Looking a bit further ahead, WiGig® will augment Wi-Fi’s networking prowess with an even higher-throughput link to support in-room connectivity and cable replacement.
- Dual band gets its due – In 2015, dual-band Wi-Fi will become ubiquitous. ABI Research predicts that 72 percent of Wi-Fi devices sold this year will operate in both 2.4 and 5 GHz. Consumers are beginning to take advantage of the increased capacity of dual-band networks as they adopt more demanding applications, like Ultra HD and 4K TV, and to support a growing number of devices on the home network.
- New developer tools in Wi-Fi Direct® will become more widely deployed – Application developers will take note: the Wi-Fi industry is constantly enhancing the core technology to make it more useful. One example: Look for broader adoption of recent enhancements to Wi-Fi Direct that make it easy to develop device-to-device services that interoperate across brands and operating systems.
- Discovering the world nearby – The newly-announced Wi-Fi Aware™ will deliver service discovery before connecting, enabling developers to focus on building the coolest apps for proximity-based services.
The Wi-Fi mobility landscape continues to evolve:
- Passpoint is your passport – Wi-Fi roaming based on Passpoint, and Wireless Broadband Alliance’s NGH initiative, will take off in 2015. Expect to see more roaming relationships emerge among carriers and cities domestically and across oceans – enabling you to seamlessly connect on Wi-Fi networks around the world.
- Cable providers continue investing in Wi-Fi – 2014 was a monumental year for cable Wi-Fi deployments, and there is no sign of slowing down in 2015. Cable providers will continue to expand their footprint outside of the home, and to reach the growing number of gadgets received this holiday season – In doing so, cable providers will aim to stay ahead of mobile carriers that have been slower to deploy.
- Mobile providers feel the heat – With rapid cable Wi-Fi deployments in 2014 and continuing into 2015, mobile carriers will feel increasing pressure to expand their own Wi-Fi footprint. Mobile operators will look to Wi-Fi deployments to provide much-needed data offload and enable inter-provider roaming.
- Wi-Fi calling reaches the tipping point – With major product vendors, mobile carriers, and startups announcing their Wi-Fi voice offerings, 2015 is the year
Wi-Fi will emerge as a popular connection for mobile phone calls.
- Consumers demand secure Wi-Fi – With nearly-ubiquitous Wi-Fi mobility comes the growing expectation of security and privacy. Consumers now have choices about where to connect, and will expect home and public Wi-Fi providers to protect their privacy and security.
Wi-Fi enables new business models and supports strategic marketing objectives:
- Wi-Fi First models keep the pressure on – Wi-Fi is already most people’s default connection to the internet, and “Wi-Fi First” business models will continue to gain traction, offering Wi-Fi as the primary connection and cellular as a supplement only when needed. These disruptive models will continue to upend the landscape and garner new subscribers.
- Wi-Fi increases retail’s bottom line – Retailers will continue to step up their Wi-Fi investments on the realization that in-store connectivity is more than a customer amenity. In-store Wi-Fi bridges the gap between online and bricks-and-mortar, increases customer loyalty and engagement, and serves as a platform for promotions and outreach when customers opt-in. Expect to see more large retail establishments expand their Wi-Fi investments.
- Take Me Out to the Wi-Fi Game – In 2015, every Major League Baseball stadium will have Wi-Fi by Opening Day, and many more National Football League, National Basketball Association, and U.K. stadiums will follow on the heels of Levi’s Stadium and FedExField, to deliver high-grade Wi-Fi networks for its fans. Stadiums and other high-traffic venues will deliver Wi-Fi ostensibly as an amenity, but recognizing that a fan with a connection, a camera, and a social media presence is the ultimate outbound marketing tool.
And what about the Internet of Everything?
- Fragmentation gives way to collaboration – Competing proprietary solutions, turf battles, and technical differences among IoT consortia will surely continue in 2015, but we will see increasing recognition that industry alignment is key to unlocking the most value from the IoT opportunity. Not only will industry move toward a common language for IoT communications, Wi-Fi will emerge as essential to the IoT because of Wi-Fi’s ubiquity, user affinity, and legacy of interoperability.
- Wi-Fi leads in smart home, industrial IoT, and connected car – Already ubiquitous in homes and enterprises, Wi-Fi networks will connect a wider range of devices to make homes and businesses more automated, efficient, and comfortable. At home, more appliances, security cameras and energy devices will connect over Wi-Fi, and cars will connect both at home and on the go for entertainment, maintenance, and safety. Meanwhile, expect advances in enterprises around building and factory automation, leveraging existing Wi-Fi infrastructure.
- Core Wi-Fi technology will keep pace – Innovation in Wi-Fi technology will continue to push the boundaries of Wi-Fi power efficiency, range, and performance, while preserving long-lived interoperability and strong security that has made Wi-Fi the success it is today.
Please visit www.wi-fi.org for more information on the various Wi-Fi Alliance technologies and certification programs available today and coming on our future roadmap.