Just two to three years back I do find many people are not aware of WiFi thing, but the scenario of unawareness has been changed a lot in last couple of months. Earlier many people including me stayed away from WiFi-only tablets and other devices for the reason that WiFi hotspots are not widely available in places. People favored mobile internet (that time 2G and EVDO in places) over WiFi because of the service availability. Even tablet vendors understand the need of cellular data and they make their tablets work with external 3G/EVDO USB dongles.
However the perception is changing in homes as well as in commercial places. As these days in a household there are many internet enabled devices, say husband, wife and their children – everyone accessing internet over phone, tablet, laptop or traditional desktops. Home users are slowly moving to adapt WiFi in their daily life.
Operators looking for WiFi offload
Among operators who are offering 3G and 4G, there is change in thinking that these companies are going to invest to offload data from cellular network to WiFi. Aircel partners with SpectraNet, Airtel is deploying its own, Idea, Vodafone are their own way and Reliance Industries plans to bring pocket WiFi routers to connect 4G to masses. Reliance Industries owned Jio Infocomm has best plan to rejuvinate WiFi as you don’t have to upgrade your existing devices if they have WiFi. You can use 4G/LTE via WiFi on your WiFi enabled devices.
In India service providers, especially the 3G operators have only 5MHz spectrum, that can not afford massive data traffic to choke the cellular network. Secondarily these operators have mostly microwave based backhaul which can not handle the massive data load. That is why operators are interested for WiFi offload on free unlicensed spectrum. The strategy seems perfect as more people move to smartphones (all of them are WiFi capable), the more they can push consumers to use WiFi.
WiFi networks will not only be parallel to 3G/4G networks, at a time they can offer seamless connectivity to the users. Currently WiFi offload is minimal in India, but globally it stands at 16% while it is expected to be tripled by 2015.
Opportunity for Vendors
With the interest from end consumers and operators top WiFi equipment vendors like Cisco, Rukus Wireless, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent are gearing up to tap the market. Infonetics forecasts the global carrier Wi-Fi equipment market to grow in the high double-digit percents annually at least through 2016, when it will cross $2.0 billion.
ABI Research believes that Rukus Wireless has the potential to attend the top spot in this newly opened business segment. With more than $100 million revenues Rukus Wireless is focusing on its Indian venture – increasing its manpower and bringing more India-centric products. Rukus is deploying WiFi zones for enterprises in American markets. Deployed in several hotel chains Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi ZoneFlex access is noted for its stronger Wi-Fi signals, ubiquitous coverage, more stable connections and consistent performance. In India Rukus Wireless tied up with MobileComm to offer complete line of ZoneFlex products including indoor and outdoor products.
The other companies – Cisco, Alca-Lu, Nokia Siemens and Ericsson have similar plans for Indian market. Some of them are already running trials with operators. We can expect that there will be rise of Indian companies who will provide WiFi solutions like the big MNCs.
Inputs: Chhavi Miglani