Demand for Hotspot 2.0 technology is set to surge, with operators planning to install it into more than half of their access points by the end of next year, new research has claimed.
A report by Infonetics said that operators are planning to increase their carrier grade access points by around a third during the next 12 months. Currently operators have an average of 32,000 access points, this will grow to more than 44,000 by 2015.
Hotspot 2.0 is a standard that was developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance and Wireless Broadband Association that allows the seamless hand off of traffic between Wi-Fi and mobile networks.
Richard Webb, Directing Analyst for Mobile Backhaul and Small Cells at Infonetics, said: "Carrier Wi-Fi deployments are evolving to deliver the same quality of experience as mobile and fixed-line broadband service environments, and this is driving Wi-Fi networks to become more closely integrated. Hotspot 2.0, a key tool developed by the industry to aid this drive, shows rapid adoption by carriers participating in our latest carrier Wi-Fi survey."
He added: "Operators are betting pretty big on carrier Wi-Fi, but they're also keen to develop ways of monetising services so that Wi-Fi starts to pay for itself over the coming years. Wi-Fi roaming and location-based services are examples of customer plans that are growing fast."
Wi-Fi is still seen as the best way of offloading data traffic although Infonetics said more sophisticated models are starting to increase in popularity as operators bring Wi-Fi into their mobile RAN, either through a SIM-based model or rolling out dual-mode Wi-Fi and small cells.
The research firm revealed that respondents cited Cisco and Ruckus as the best Wi-Fi manufacturers for the second year running. It said that the key monetisation models for this kind of technology was pre-pay, bundles with mobile broadband subscriptions and tiered hotspots.