Opportunities arising from the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data, coupled with the shift towards 5G is prompting telcos to make next generation Wi-Fi a priority, according to a new report.
Nearly 60% of the telecoms firms quizzed by global researcher Maravedis-Rethink on behalf of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) said they intend to deploy so-called 'carrier-grade' Wi-Fi network architecture, Telecoms.com reports.
The findings suggest that confidence is growing in carrier-grade Wi-Fi, with almost half the respondents in little doubt they will be running IoT applications across the new networks by 2020.
WBA said the study data indicates that carrier-grade hotspots will outnumber best effort in the installed base by the end of 2017, while by 2020, less than 10% of best effort hotspots will remain, as new installations achieve carrier-grade.
WBA CEO Shrikant Shenwai suggested the surge in the number of deployments witnessed in the past 12 months will continue, with a 70% rise in the number of carrier-grade public Wi-Fi hotspots expected within five years.
"These shifts mean that the themes of the WBA's Vision 2020 are equally applicable to all the ecosystem's stakeholders," he said.
Wi-Fi is becoming the strategic platform for a range of service providers including pure-plays, aggregators, MNOs, MSOs and vertical market operators, says the report.
It adds that while one-quarter of the business value from Wi-Fi comes from cutting costs and boosting earnings today, by 2019 it will have become a revenue generator in areas such as smart cities, Wi-Fi First and multiplay bundles.
"The industry has gone from talking about the benefits of carrier-grade Wi-Fi to actually realising its potential," said Caroline Gabriel, research director at Maravedis-Rethink. "As investment increases, the potential returns will grow as new revenue streams develop."