NFV, Hotspot 2.0, new tech to drive carrier Wi-Fi market

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The global carrier Wi-Fi equipment market will double during the next five years, driven by network functions virtualisation, Hotspot 2.0 and 802.11ac, new research has claimed.

A report from IHS said the market was worth $713 million last year, having grown steadily since 2007 thanks to the likes of Wi-Fi as a hotspot.

By 2020, the market will be worth $1.5 billion, thanks to the growing adoption of a range of different technologies.

Operators will use Hotspot 2.0 to fully integrate their Wi-Fi with other networks and support roaming between them.

The 802.11ac standard is based on 5GHz spectrum and will offer greater capacity. IHS said it will become the dominant standard for carrier Wi-Fi in the coming years.

Finally, NFV will allow Wi-Fi players to deliver most cost effective services. Companies like Cisco and Ruckus, the number one and three players respectively, are already offering these deployments.

Richard Webb, Research Director, Mobile Backhaul and Small Cells, IHS Technology, said: "By 2020, the worldwide carrier WiFi market is forecast to reach $1.5 billion and have a cumulative size of over $6.8 billion for 2016–2020 based on two strong segments: standalone WiFi access points predominantly deployed by fixed-line operators, cable multiple system operators and wireless internet service providers, and dual mode Wi-Fi/cellular access points deployed by mobile operators."

IHS said the carrier Wi-Fi market was worth $367 million in the second half of last year, up six percent on the previous six months.

It cited mobile operators as the main driver of revenue, with China Mobile driving high volumes of deployment. Asia Pacific was the biggest market, followed by Europe, Middle East and Africa, then North America and Latin America.