The public debate and marketing on wireless networks have focused so heavily on 5G mobile networking technology that it is worth highlighting the market and opportunities for a freely licensed (free) spectrum.

For two decades, the Wi-Fi Alliance and its technology companies have enabled home and business Internet service innovations. During this period, the speed and reliability of the Wi-Fi network have grown into a de-facto networking technology.

  • More than half of the world’s Internet traffic goes over a Wi-Fi network
  • The economic value is about US $ 3.5 trillion
  • Technology is also the basis for Internet use in low-income countries
  • 71% of mobile terminal traffic goes through Wi-Fi (forecast 2022)
  • Wi-Fi is the default network for corporate workstations and terminals
  • Wi-Fi is essential for Smart City services in municipalities and cities

Given the lax and almost discriminatory attitude towards the free spectrum in the EU, the achievement must be considered enormous. Finally, the new 6GHz and 60GHz frequencies will solve the challenges of Wi-Fi growth well into the future.

Innovations only turn into products in a functioning market.

Wi-Fi (and Bluetooth) connections are an essential part of the digital customer experience in people’s everyday lives. Without these wireless technologies, we won’t use computers, hands-free technology, listen to music, watch movies, open car doors, move the mouse, transfer photos to friends, track our body’s performance and well-being, or do anything else. New innovative home technology solutions such as doorbells, surveillance cameras, vacuum cleaners, robots, smart locks, lighting, intelligent clothes, etc., are all based on Wi-Fi / Bluetooth networks.

Why is the 5G mobile market unable to create new products?

Compared to mobile networking technology (4G, 5G), the key to Wi-Fi’s success has always been concrete, affordable and easy-to-buy products. In reality, the 4G and 5G ecosystems have not been able to create significant commercial products and services other than a simple and expensive mobile data interface. 5G’s visions and potential uses have not turned into concrete products in the last four years. Individual implementations do not change this fact or market. In the current market structure and earnings logic, the situation is unlikely to change. While 5G and 6G are not in direct competition with Wi-Fi technology, it is clear that it is gnawing at the envisioned use of mobile networks and its business growth.

The number of IoT devices connected with mobile network technology (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, NB-IoT, LTE-M) in 2020 was 1.8 billion. The forecast for 2030 is 6.2 billion. There is growth, but we are considerably far from the estimates for 2010 when, e.g., Ericsson (Hans Vestburg) predicted the level of 50 billion networked devices (excluding PCs and phones) by 2020. The forecast was 2766% too high, but the operators’ investment had to be mobilized in some ways.

Wi-Fi evolution and use cases

I compiled the essential Wi-Fi standards with their schedules and most potential uses into a document that you can download Wi-Fi Evolution 2022 – 2025 and use cases. The new standards open up opportunities for industry and service operators to develop products for a substantial global market.

 

Hanu Rokka, Senior advisor

5Feet Networks Oy