Industry report reveals 33% plan to deploy Wi-Fi 7 by 2024
Wi-Fi 7 is becoming one of the biggest areas of investment in new connectivity technologies. This is one of the key findings of the latest cross-industry survey of service providers, technology providers and enterprises conducted by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the global industry body dedicated to improving Wi-Fi standards and services.
The results, released by the WBA as part of the WBA 2023 Annual Industry Report, reveal more than a third (33%) of service providers, technology providers and enterprises already plan to deploy Wi-Fi 7 by the end of 2023. Wi-Fi 7 will supercharge current Wi-Fi capabilities with new technologies, such as multilink operation and time-sensitive networking – ideal for Industry 4.0 applications – while leveraging the 6 GHz spectrum in a more dynamic with automatic frequency coordination.
The report also revealed that Wi-Fi 6E has now become the de facto industry standard, with 53% have already deployed the technology and 44% are already working on plans to adopt Wi-Fi 6E in the next 12-18 months.
Immersive technology and quality of experience drive adoption
The adoption of Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 is driven by a growing appetite for data-intensive, low-latency applications and use cases, smart cities, and immersive technologies such as the future metaverse to Industry 4.0. New Wi-Fi technologies offer better planning and interference management, which survey respondents now consider essential to support high-quality video, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR ) and other advanced consumer experiences.
The report details a renewed interest in the quality of experience (QoE) delivered to end users, with 90% of service providers, equipment manufacturers and enterprises now ranking it as a key differentiator in monetizing their Wi-Fi services. Sixty-one percent of respondents identified services such as high definition video streaming, augmented reality, virtual reality and potential metaverse apps as key revenue opportunities.
Momentum for WBA OpenRoaming is building
The global momentum for WBA OpenRoaming, which reached the milestone of one million access points in early 2022, was also highlighted by the report. OpenRoaming allows users to automatically and securely connect to millions of Wi-Fi networks around the world without the need for logins, registrations or passwords, facilitating “always on” connectivity. Passpoint technology removes the friction typically associated with boarding and disembarking between hotspots. Sixty-two percent of service providers, equipment manufacturers and enterprises worldwide will have already deployed Passpoint/OpenRoaming technology or plan to do so by the end of 2023. Another 25% expected to deploy the technology by 2025.
Among them adopting OpenRoaming, 51% said the main driver was improving the overall customer experience.
Convergence is key
Other key findings from the report reinforce the need for convergence between Wi-Fi and cellular technologies in the interest of creating a seamless user experience:
- In enterprise markets, 70% said Wi-Fi and 5G would co-exist, and 61% said convergence would drive increased flexibility for enterprise services.
- 53% said convergence between licensed and unlicensed technologies was essential or important to current business strategy
Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, said“What we’re seeing here is the industry as a whole identifying increasing value in Wi-Fi technology as a result of highly anticipated new use cases. Additionally, service providers, manufacturers of equipment and enterprises around the world know that these use cases are best served in a converged environment, where Wi-Fi and 5G complement each other.As a result, we see the industry moving at a breakneck pace towards the Wi-Fi 7, mobile operators leveraging Wi-Fi as part of their 5G strategies to maximize coverage and optimize capacity – it’s all about the user experience, including how people and things connect to networks – automatically, securely and with assured privacy and this is where OpenRoaming provides the essential ingredient.
Adlane Fellah, Senior Analyst Maravedis, said, “Ensuring a predictable quality Wi-Fi experience has become the primary driver of innovation and collaboration in the industry. In a post-pandemic world, consumers and businesses expect more from Wi-Fi and depend on it more than ever. Immersive experiences, low latency applications and seamless roaming will drive the Wi-Fi industry for the foreseeable future. »