Michael Fletcher, Sales Director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa
2012 was a great year for the Wi-Fi industry, especially in the enterprise IT space. More businesses embraced the solutions Wi-Fi had to offer and in the process improved on their internal processes and services to their customers. The growth of smartphones and tablets continued to dominate throughout the year, with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon becoming a key feature in wireless solutions for increased mobility and productivity. This resulted in vendors creating bigger and faster access points and pushing for controller-less solutions. So where to in 2013?
Although we are likely to see some of these trends continue into 2013, enterprise IT trends that will come to the forefront this year will predominantly be in the mobile and cloud computing space. Mobile device management, application management and location and file control will become key and with the increased adoption of cloud computing by business, the focus will be on Wi-Fi solutions that promote this technology. Wireless will become more pervasive and not just as a secondary connection option – but for primary use as well.
From a service provider perspective, 2013 will be the year of Hotspot 2.0 as devices and network infrastructure continue to make their way into the networks. The ability to seamlessly roam on Wi-Fi will have a huge effect on the mobile industry. What’s more, 5Ghz enabled smartphones will greatly accelerate Wi-Fi deployments in high-density locations.
Operators will begin to work out roaming arrangements and settlements, focusing on network architectures that support Wi-Fi Radio Access Network (RAN), 3G RAN, and LTE RAN traffic all fed into the mobile packet core. Wi-Fi will become just another mobile RAN technology. In fact, integration of Wi-Fi RANs into the Mobile Packet Core will become a reality as operators begin to deploy 3GPP compatible WLAN gateways.
Multiple system operator deployments of Wi-Fi gear will continue at a brisk pace to enable more smart Wi-Fi cities. Small cell build-out technology will increase by integration into Wi-Fi access points, while light pole based deployments will begin in many geographies as a way to address traffic growth in major metro areas. Lastly, we will start to see 802.11ac gear start to rollout over the course of the year.
The growth of wireless technology in the market is undeniable as it continues to improve the way consumers, operators and enterprises operate. Not only does it allow for faster connectivity, but it’s cost effective and has proven to be the solution that works for the challenges of modern living and business. Wireless technology and Wi-Fi are here to stay and we can expect more innovative solutions as the industry grows. Here’s to a booming 2013!