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Five Predictions for the Future of Wi-Fi and Mobile

New devices, changes in customer behaviors, and technological advances are rapidly changing the mobile market and consumers’ expectations of mobility.  A recent Cisco study of mobile consumers reveals how much, and how quickly the world of mobility is changing.  The survey uncovers some startling revelations about what consumers are doing on their mobile devices, how and where they are using them, and how they are connecting them to the Internet.  Highlights of the research are revealed in my recent blog Discover What Consumers Want from Wi-Fi and Mobile.

The majority of devices are now Wi-Fi-enabled, and the fastest-growing category is “nomadic” devices like tablets and eReaders.  We now need to speak of the “mobile home,” as the home is by far the most popular location for consumers to use their mobile devices. Surprisingly, Wi-Fi is the network connection of choice for most consumers for all of their devices.  Public Wi-Fi is now a big part of mobile life.

Consumers are generally satisfied with their public Wi-Fi experience, but they want it to be faster, more secure, better quality, and most of all, available in more places. Consumers are anxious for enhanced personal mobile experiences that can be delivered by unlocking the inherent business value hidden in the Wi-Fi infrastructure.

While it is never easy to foresee the future, we are making five predictions for key changes in the mobile industry over the next two years based on insights from the Cisco mobile consumer research: Read More »

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Discover What Consumers Want from Wi-Fi and Mobile

Consumers have a true love of mobile devices, as evidenced by recent Cisco mobile consumer research.  Significant percentages of respondents reported using everything from laptops, smartphones, and tablets to eReaders and mobile gaming devices. Americans now own an average of three mobile devices each, up from 2.6 devices in the 2012 Cisco mobile consumer study.  Perhaps more significant, our findings show that the number of smartphone users has grown by 21 percent in just one year, now reaching 68 percent of the population, at the expense of basic phones. Most remarkable is that the number of tablet owners has expanded by over 90 percent in just one year, with close to four out of ten consumers possessing one of these new devices.

The insatiable demand for mobile devices and new applications that use large amounts of bandwidth is generating staggering volumes of mobile data. In parallel, the use of Wi-Fi for Internet access is exploding, as more mobile devices are Wi-Fi enabled, the number of public hotspots expands, and user acceptance grows. Most mobile operators now realize that offloading data traffic to Wi-Fi can, and must, play a significant role in helping them avoid clogged networks and unhappy customers. Many service providers are now constructing extensive networks of public Wi-Fi hotspots for use by their mobile or home broadband customers. The networks allow mobile offload and help enhance and differentiate their offerings. In addition, service providers are struggling to understand new business models for making money from Wi-Fi.  However, very little is currently known about how consumers are actually using public Wi-Fi and how they view the overall experience. Nor is there much information about mobile users’ appetite for these new services, their willingness to use them, or their privacy or security concerns surrounding these data-based services.

To learn more, Cisco conducted a survey of 620 U.S. mobile users to understand their needs and behaviors, use of devices, applications and mobile access technologies, and how they have changed since our 2012 mobile consumer study.

Top 10 Research Findings Read More »

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How to Solve the Wireless Spectrum Puzzle

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

An interesting battle over unlicensed wireless communication spectrum has been brewing in the U.S. over the last few weeks, one that pits advocates of open public access against advocates of licensing and private control.

Here are the highlights of the ongoing debate. In September, the FCC approved a spectrum test that could ultimately promulgate access using the white space between television channels. This method, known as “super Wi-Fi,” is said to allow the signal to travel further and still accommodate structural barriers. The test ran in Lake Mary, Fla., and concluded early in November. However, the FCC has not yet released results.

Read More »

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The State of Wi-Fi

By Lisa Garza, Cisco Service Provider Mobility Marketing Manager

Anyone involved in burgeoning Wi-Fi hotspot network industry realizes that there has been a dearth of solid market information available.  Well, that all changed this week as the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) released a joint report with Informa Global Developments in Public Wi-Fi at their 20th Roundtable and Conference in Singapore.

Check out this WBA report on Global Developments in Public Wi-Fi. To view the complete report, please click here:

The research shows that almost half (47%) of mobile operators now think Wi-Fi is either very important or essential to their customers’ experience. The research also found that operators are planning a massive increase in Wi-Fi hotspot deployments – hotspots are set to rocket with a 350% increase by 2015.

The report confirms the Cisco VNI numbers, showing that mobile data is continuing its massive growth across the globe.  The WBA Public Wi-Fi report predicts that mobile data traffic will hit 16.84 million terabytes by 2014. Operators are increasingly turning to Wi-Fi as a trusted extension to both fixed and mobile networks for offering their customers a seamless Internet experience.

And the report underscores the importance of the Next Generation Hotspot work that the WBA has underway.  The report includes an industry survey that highlights seamless authentication, ease of network discovery and security as the most significant barriers to wider adoption of Wi-Fi.  In June I wrote a blog about the WBA launch of the Next Generation Hotspot trials. This week, at the WBA 20th Conference in Singapore, we learned that the trials are well underway and are scheduled to complete on time.  In fact, Shaw Communications recently announced plans to deploy Next Generation Hotspot in a trial, using Cisco’s Service Provider Wi-Fi solution.

Stay tuned to this space.  The WBA intends to release this Wi-Fi Industry report on a regular basis, and 2012 promises to be the year where we’ll see these barriers fall.

Meanwhile, for those of you curious to learn more about the following, check out this webcast on What is WBA Next Generation Hotspot Anyway?:

  • The future of Service Provider Wi-Fi networks
  • WFA Hotspot 2.0 Specification
  • WBA Next Generation Roaming Trials
  • How Hotspot 2.0 will open up new revenue opportunities for service providers


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