Thursday, May 10, 2012

Infonetics: Carrier Wi-Fi Market Takes Off

Infonetics is predicting that the global carrier WiFi equipment market will grow in the high double-digit percents annually at least through 2016, when it will hit $2.1 billion. This pace is already established as Infonetics notes that global revenue for carrier WiFi equipment -- including mobile WiFi access points, WiFi hotspot access points, and WiFi hotspot controllers -- grew 35% in 2011 from 2010.

"Our many recent conversations with mobile operators and equipment vendors validate our view that mobile operators are hot for hotspots,” notes Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave, mobile offload, and mobile broadband devices at Infonetics Research. "The carrier WiFi equipment market has grown consistently since 2007, initially driven by exploding demand from mobile operators augmenting their 3G and 4G deployments with WiFi hotspot services. The strongest new growth driver is mobile operators deploying carrier WiFi to offload a portion of their mobile data traffic."

Some notes from the Infonetics' Carrier Wi-Fi Survey:

  • Two-thirds of the service providers that Infonetics interviewed have already deployed 20,000 to over 150,000 WiFi access points (APs) in public spaces.
  • Street coverage is seen as one of the areas of greatest deficit for WiFi coverage; by 2013, the percentage of service providers planning to deploy WiFi for street coverage jumps to 79%.
  • Complementing the mobile data service by enhancing throughput is currently the top deployment driver for carrier WiFi, followed by the scarcity of licensed spectrum.
  • Nearly all respondent carriers plan to increase the number of access points deployed by 2013, so Infonetics expects significant carrier WiFi deployment over the coming year.
  • Smartphones and tablets are named by mobile operators as the top mobile broadband devices driving their 2013 deployments of public WiFi networks.

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