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By 2 February 2012 | Categories: news

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Smartphones, tablets, printers as well as other gadgets that can employ a Wi-Fi network assist in making our lives easier because of their wireless convenience and internet connectivity speeds obtainable via a Wi-Fi network.  

This dependence on Wi-Fi networks looks set to increase during 2012 as investment bank JP Morgan estimates that sales of tablets will soar to 99.3 million this year. This, coupled with the ever-increasing sales of smartphones, will result in more fixed line operators and wireless service providers, enterprises and public sector organisations adopting Wi-Fi to cater for the growing demand for wireless connectivity.

Chris Bruce, chairman of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, stated that 2011 marked the beginning of “the golden age of public Wi-Fi”, and Ruckus Wireless, a provider of wireless systems for the mobile network market agrees.

According to the company, the demand for Wi-Fi connectivity will increase and cause the market to experience the following specific developments during 2012:

1. Capacity will matter as much as coverage in 2012

Wi-fi capacity will become just as important an issue as Wi-Fi coverage during 2012 and service providers will have to deploy Wi-Fi networks with the bandwidth to cope with highly populated and dense environments, such as the crowds of spectators expected at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

This will become apparent as more wireless operators offload data traffic onto Wi-Fi networks and Wi-Fi hotspots become universally accessible, due to the adoption of the 802.11u standard. This standard will enable users to roam seamlessly between different hotspots, without the need for constant authentication. It is estimated that service providers will spend up to $1 billion globally on Wi-Fi network expansion to support the need for greater capacity.

2. Three Wi-Fi devices per-person

As sales of smartphones and tablets with Wi-Fi capabilities continue to increase at a rapid rate, the firm estimates that the average number of Wi-Fi enabled devices per person will reach three in 2012.

Apart from smartphones and tablets other Wi-Fi enabled-devices include notebooks, video-game consoles as well as printers. Many users are now taking their devices into the workplace and into schools or universities, to act as a substitute for their PC to conduct a range of different tasks.

In addition to the above, Ruckus Wireless predicts that:
  • The number of Wi-Fi connections will equal or surpass all other type of network connectivity in 2012.
  • Wi-Fi range and speeds will double by the end of 2012.
  • The adoption of 802.11u will become rampant in 2012, bringing carriers into the enterprise market.
  • Wi-Fi capacity will overtake Wi-Fi coverage as the number one issue for wireless in 2012.
“Based on the accelerating activity of the past six months, the industry can expect to see rapid expansion of Wi-Fi networks worldwide, that will open up new markets and enable broadband users to enjoy the truly reliable and high-bandwidth experience they’ve been waiting for,” concluded Michael Fletcher, sales director: Sub-Saharan Africa at Ruckus Wireless.

In related news, Deloitte recently presented its Technology, Media and Telecommunications  (TMT) Predictions report for 2012, and painted a picture in which computing, communications and entertainment continue undergoing some swift progress in the year ahead.

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