Now, Wi-Fi growth in the telecom carrier realm is increasingly being driven by a diverse customer base and emerging technologies -- including Hotspot 2.0, 802.11ac and network functions virtualization (NFV), according to the latest worldwide market study by IHS.
By 2020, the worldwide carrier Wi-Fi market is forecast to reach $1.5 billion, and have a cumulative size of over $6.8 billion from 2016 to 2020 based on two market segments: standalone Wi-Fi access points predominantly deployed by fixed-line operators, cable multiple system operators (MSOs) and wireless internet service providers (ISPs). Plus, dual-mode Wi-Fi and cellular access points deployed by mobile operators.
Technology innovations continue to deliver positive impacts on the carrier Wi-Fi market, driving current and next-generation service opportunities. Hotspot 2.0 enables operators to fully integrate Wi-Fi with their existing broadband networks and supports service functions such as Wi-Fi roaming.
Wi-Fi 802.11ac standard, based on 5GHz wireless spectrum, offers higher capacities and has rapidly become the dominant standard for telecom service provider Wi-Fi deployments. It's also driving upgrade purchasing from the earlier 802.11n standard deployments.
And the evolution of NFV, which has already been introduced into the carrier Wi-Fi market by Ruckus Wireless and Cisco, offers the opportunity for more cost-effective Wi-Fi service delivery by a range of service providers as well as enterprises and other organizations.
Other highlights from the market study include:
- Globally, carrier Wi-Fi equipment revenue totaled $367 million in the second half of 2015 (H2 2015), that's up by 6 percent over the first half of 2015 (H1 2015).
- Mobile service providers accounted for the majority of revenue, with large tier-1 multiple network operators (MNOs) such as China Mobile driving volume.
- 802.11ac access points comprised 61 percent of H2 2015 carrier Wi-Fi access point revenue.
- For the full-year 2015, Asia Pacific led the carrier Wi-Fi market in terms of geographical breakdown, ahead of EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), North America and Latin America.
- The top three vendors for carrier Wi-Fi equipment revenue share in 2015 were, in alphabetical order, Cisco, Huawei and Ruckus Wireless.