Blog | Top Wi-Fi trends — 2015 predictions for the enterprise

By Michael Lok

michael lok ruckus

Wi-Fi technology is having a continued, huge impact on the consumers, businesses/enterprises, public venues, and service providers of all types.

The smartphone revolution continues to remake the wireless landscape as users in all geographies and all socio-economic groups flock to these devices that can do so much more then place a voice call.

In fact, recent surveys have found that voice calling is not even in the top 5 of things that are commonly done with smartphones.

We now live in a data-centric, wireless world, and no technology is better suited to address this reality than Wi-Fi. It is a technology that users look for in any business or public venue that they enter.

Wi-Fi in many ways has become a utility. It’s like running water or electricity — you expect it to be there, and if you don’t have it, you are at a serious quality-of-life disadvantage.

In the case of the business world, lack of reliable Wi-Fi puts you at a serious competitive disadvantage. This is especially true in hospitality, where we pick hotels based on the quality of the Wi-Fi service.

This mega-trend offers enormous opportunity for both enterprises and service providers of all types, and some are jumping in more aggressively than others.

In the case of service providers, none have been quite as aggressive as cable operators (MSOs), who have come to regard Wi-Fi as strategic to their businesses. It is yet another service they add to their bundle which greatly reduces the amount of churn they get in their customer base — and churn is expensive.

MNOs have also been aggressive in this space as they look at Wi-Fi to offload macro cellular networks in high-density locations. An obvious example of this are stadiums, where the legacy DAS networks have nowhere near the capacity to handle tens of thousands of smartphones and all the video uploads to Facebook, Instagram, et al that occur during high-profile sporting events and other festivities where thousands of people armed with mobile devices gather.

LTE Small Cells are a technology that is often talked about as a way to increase network capacity, but this technology still has some growing pains and many of these revolve around business models and the need for a neutral host solution.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi continues to evolve at a breakneck pace. 802.11ac Wave 2 will emerge in 2015; Hotspot 2.0 Release 2 is poised to completely redo the Wi-Fi user experience; value-added services like location-based services (LBS) are now being aggressively and broadly deployed; and there are plenty of advances on the business model front as well.

Bottom line: Wi-Fi is the perfect solution for the data challenges that are coming from a worldwide infatuation with and insatiable demand for more and better wireless data services of all types.

Here then, are our Ruckus Wireless perspectives — our predictions for Wi-Fi in 2015.

1. 2015 will be the year of 802.11ac. Now that the consumer market and handhelds with 802.11ac technology are common, enterprises, workplaces, organizations and schools are rushing to support it. The adoption of consumer 802.11ac smart devices combined with the continued growth of BYOD is forcing organizations to migrate to 11ac-supported Wi-Fi infrastructure sooner rather than later.

2. Monetizing the WLAN has traditionally meant charging for WLAN usage. Today, organizations have the option to add services such as analytics, location, advertising, and marketing as new forms of monetization. These services can greatly benefit the organization or business to better understand basic things such as WLAN trends, customer movement, and demographics. We will see continued growth of these new ways to monetize Wi-Fi infrastructure investments in 2015.

3. The never-ending drive to cut costs in data centers by reducing real estate and facilities expenses continues to drive the demand for virtualization. For wireless, virtualization provides another level of resiliency that is tied into the data center high availability model. Virtualization also lowers the Capex for many technologies, which opens the doors for managed services.

4. The cloud will continue to provide value added resellers (VARs) with easy-to-deploy services to customers that prefer ‘wireless as a service.’ Small businesses will be able to receive enterprise technology such as location-based services (LBS) and secure guest access.

5. Hotspot 2.0 based technology (e.g., Passpoint) will continue to be adopted by vertical markets that provide public Wi-Fi access such as hospitality and transportation, as well as general enterprises. With Hotspot 2.0, more and more customers will be able to seamlessly and securely roam on Wi-Fi networks.

The author is the managing director for Southeast Asia at Ruckus Wireless

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