Report: WiFi Is The Future, Number Of Hotspots To Quadruple By 2015

by Gaurav Kheterpal on November 14, 2011

WiFi is perhaps one of the most widely used medium to access the Internet. And the best part, it keeps getting faster, bigger and better every year. It’s widely believed that faster in-home Wi-Fi is no longer a distant reality and next gen Wi-Fi standard could deliver in-home speeds of a gigabit.

A recent report published by market research company Informa Telecoms and Media, predicts that the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to increase by 350 percent in the next four years. The report suggests that wireless carriers all around the globe will increasingly use WiFi as a means to offload traffic from their mobile networks.

As per Informa’s report, there’s no doubt that the future is fast, the future is WiFi.

The report titled “Global developments in public Wi-Fi” has been compiled by Informa and commissioned by Wireless Broadband Alliance. It reveals that by 2015 users around the world will be able to connect to 5.8 million public hotspots, a 350 percent increased as compared to the current hotspot population of 1.3 million. It attributes exponential mobile data growth as the major driving factor for rapid build-out of Wi-Fi hotspots. Interestingly, the projected figure for WiFi hotspots does not include community hotspots, and WBA says that this group adds another 4.5 million hotspots worldwide.

As per the report, Wi-Fi hotspots will be concentrated in three areas; wide-area outdoor ‘hotzones’, local-area outdoor hotzones and transport hubs. Informa reached out to 259 network operators around the world, and based on the information gathered, it claims that tablets are fast emerging as WiFi data hogs, accounting for a tenth of hotspot connections, while smartphones account for 36 per cent and laptops less than half.

These findings are supported by another recent report from Ericsson which predicts that mobile data traffic will grow tenfold in 2G, 3G and 4G networks between 2011 and 2016. Despite the evolution of LTE and other 4G technologies, WiFi will continue to feature among most popular mediums to access the web. In fact, Asia seems to be well ahead in the WiFi hotspot game – China Mobile plans to deploy more than a million hotspots in the next few years while Japan’s KDDI is targeting 100,000 hotspots within the next six months.

While it’s good to see WiFi penetration increase with time, will it match up to the traffic demands for years from now? Networking giant Cisco predicts that wireless data will skyrocket to 26 times the current amount, largely due to booming smartphones and tablets. Can wireless networks scale to such astronomical needs? WiFi once regarded as the technology of the past decade; however it may prove to be a saving grace for the wireless carrier fraternity in the years to come. What do you think? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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