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.
Finally, 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.
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