2015 - A wireless perfect storm

In 2014, Wi-Fi continued to have a huge impact on SME and enterprise markets, including hotels, shopping malls, transportation centres and other public venues.

It’s no longer a niche technology and has become a strategic solution for organisations whose employees and customers rely greatly on always being connected. In the case of the businesses, lack of reliable Wi-Fi puts you at a serious disadvantage.

As the worldwide demand for Wi-Fi continues in 2015, and more businesses turn to Wi-Fi to help streamline their processes, we can expect some interesting trends to emerge:

Enterprises tap into 802.11ac

In 2015, the benefits of 802.11ac will continue to be widely appreciated in the enterprise. Wave 2 of the technology, which can enable data rates of nearly 7 Gbps, will have enterprises, workplaces, organisations and schools rushing to support it.

The adoption of consumer 802.11ac smart devices combined with the continued growth of BYOD is forcing organisations to migrate to 11ac-supported Wi-Fi infrastructure sooner rather than later.

News ways to monetise WLAN

Monetising the WLAN has traditionally meant charging for its usage. However, organisations now have the option to provide value-added services - such as analytics, advertising, and marketing - as new ways to help monetise their WLAN assets.

These services can greatly benefit the business to understand trends on their networks, such as customer movement and demographics. In 2015, we will see continued growth of these new ways to monetise Wi-Fi infrastructure investments.

The Cloud enables managed WLAN services

In 2015, the cloud will continue to provide Value Added Resellers (VARs) with easy-to-deploy, cost effective Wi-Fi to customers that prefer it delivered as a managed service. Small businesses, for example will be able to benefit from enterprise technology such as location-based services (LBS) and secure guest access, now available to them due to the cost reduction and flexibility that the cloud has introduced.

Benefits of Hotspot 2.0 realised by vertical markets

In 2014, Hotspot 2.0 (Passpoint) technology was deployed predominately across public spaces by operators and managed service providers, enabling a wireless roaming experience akin to that on a cellular networking.

In 2015, Hotspot 2.0, release two, will improve on the considerable innovations introduced in release one. Release two is largely focused on standardising the management of Hotspot 2.0 credentials on a client device; how they are provisioned, how they are stored on the device, how they are used in network selection, and how long they are made valid.

These capabilities should encourage more vertical markets to adopt the technology - such as hospitality and transportation - where a seamless and secure Wi-Fi experience will improve business processes.

Drive for cost cuts drives virtualisation

The never-ending drive to cut costs in Data Centres by reducing real estate and facilities expenses continues to drive the demand for virtualisation. For wireless, virtualisation provides another level of resiliency that is tied into the Data Center high availability model.

Virtualisation also lowers the CAPEX for many technologies, which opens the doors for managed services.

Roger Hockaday is director of marketing, EMEA at Wi-Fi technology company Ruckus Wireless.