Carrier WiFi is sitting on the runway ready to take-off: infrastructure spend is expected to reach US$2.2 billion by 2017 as mobile operators look to WiFi offload to de-congest their cell networks. By Ian Scales.
Researcher, ABI, projects a significant spending spree by carriers on WiFi access points and controllers so that by 2017 Carrier WiFi will be almost half the size of the traditional enterprise or consumer/SoHo Wi-Fi segments.
Carriers have been mulling WiFi as an offload option for several years, but until now the market has been held back by lack of appropriate standards - particularly around 'seamless' connection. Now new standards - in particular Hotspot 2.0 - are coming to fruition with major announcements and certification initiatives expected very soon (keep watching this space).
The industry is poised to expand fast as both carriers and 'third party' hotspot operators invest to boost their capacity in hotspot areas and use WiFi to do it.
ABI points out that a combination of the new standards and the now near universal incorporation of WiFi onto devices - from smartphones to tablets, music players, cameras and TVs - will see a rapid roll-out of Carrier WiFi infrastructure.
"The majority of the total market in 2011 was accounted for by Cisco, Ruckus Wireless, and Ericsson/BelAir, and as traditional mobile infrastructure vendors add Wi-Fi to their portfolios, these early market share rankings will fluctuate," says ABI.
"Carrier controlled Wi-Fi is expected to see wide-scale adoption, especially in markets like North America, Japan, and South Korea. Additionally, the use of increasingly sophisticated connection managers, which aggressively seek out validated WiFi access in accordance with the service provider's policies, will accelerate this trend. As a result carrier Wi-Fi data traffic offloaded is expected to grow to around 30 per cent by 2017."
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