WiFi will kill mobile networks by 2025
More traffic is already being offloaded from cellular networks onto WiFi than remains on them. By 2025, a surge in data-use, stimulated by unlimited plans and the roll-out of 5G, will push the networks to breaking point. WiFi is the future of connectivity, say Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of WiFi analytics platform Purple, and futurist Mike Ryan.
Stress on mobile networks is building and could become untenable within seven years, say Purple CEO Gavin Wheeldon and Digital Futurist Mike Ryan. The duo predicts that cellular networks, which already depend on WiFi to cope with increasing data consumption, may fail to hold up under the pressure of unlimited plans and 5G.
Mobile’s dependency on WiFi “Mobile networks rely on being able to offload data onto WiFi,” says Wheeldon, “More traffic was offloaded from cellular networks on to WiFi than remained on them in 2016 . As we enter the Zettabyte era, with annual global IP traffic expected to reach 3.3 ZB per year by 2021, it will be increasingly necessary for WiFi to take more of the strain.”
Smartphones’ 7-year sell-by date Purple has consulted Digital Futurist Mike Ryan, founder of Fusion Futures, for his expert view. Ryan says, “People in urban areas are already using WiFi on their mobile devices even when they think they are using 4G. In the next few years, wearable devices, such as digital contact lenses, will replace mobile phones and data usage will increase. WiFi, or an evolution of the current technology with unlimited speed , will be the go-to-choice for data delivery, potentially removing 4G and 5G networks altogether by 2025.”
Robust WiFi market unlikely to flounder The global WiFi market is consistently growing. With an estimated CAGR (2015-2020) of 17.8% , it is expected to be worth $33.6 billion by 2020. It is also predicted that, by 2018, there will be one WiFi hotspot on the planet for every eight humans .
The latest figures released show a similarly rosy picture, with the number of UK venues using Purple’s guest WiFi service increasing year-on-year (2016-2017) by 36%, while the number of unique users logging in to the WiFi at these venues is up by 57%.
“We are at a tipping point,” says Wheeldon, “If growth of WiFi continues at this rate, people in urban areas will soon be able to use fast, free WiFi exclusively for Internet access and data downloads.”
Changing phone habits – calls & texts dwindling Purple has found that there are already almost 12 million commercial and community WiFi hotspots in the UK, with the majority offering free access. And with mobile habits changing, it begs the question: could WiFi serve all our connectivity needs?
A report by Deloitte in 2016 found that 31% of smartphone users make no voice calls in a given week – compared to 4% in 2012. Similarly, following a peak in 2011, the use of texts in the UK has plummeted by almost half. Calls and texts have been overtaken by instant messaging through popular apps like Facetime and Whatsapp.
Evolution of WiFi “We expect WiFi to outlive the mobile networks,” says Wheeldon, “Increasingly, it is the glue that holds our connected world together, satisfying the appetites of Netflix and Spotify bingers, who use their phones in a very different way to a decade ago.”
“WiFi also offers significant benefits from a commercial perspective,” he adds, “For instance, venues can use a WiFi analytics platform to improve engagement with visitors and collect insights that can be used to empower marketing and strategic decision making.
“WiFi is an established technology with two decades of growth behind it, which is continually innovating. It remains unsurpassed in terms of performance and ability to move large amounts of data. We’re looking forward to a bright future for WiFi.”
From its launch in 2013, Purple now supplies free guest WiFi to 5,300 venues in the UK alone, with thousands more globally. Its top 5 connected UK locations are: London (829 venues); Newcastle Upon Tyne (140 venues; Birmingham (128 active venues); Manchester (117 venues) and Glasgow (107 venues). Almost two thirds (65%) of Purple’s connected venues are in the hospitality industry.
About Purple: https://www.purple.ai
Purple’s solution allows businesses to monitor their physical spaces and actively promote their brand, while providing valuable insights into customer behaviour within venues.
With over 20 million users across 125 countries, Purple works with a range of brands and venues, including Legoland, Jaguar, United Wireless Arena, City of York, TUI, Centurylink, Pizza Express, British Land, Merlin Entertainments Group and the Indiana Pacers.
It has a global agreement in place with Westcon Comstor, in addition to an active reseller base of over 1,200 in 102 countries. Purple employs over 100 full time staff and currently has offices in the UK, US, Spain, Australia, Singapore and Chile, with more offices planned.
Purple is experiencing growth in multiple sectors, including hospitality, where people have time to spend online; in retail, where footfall tracking is essential; in healthcare, offering transparency around service and communication; and in entire cities moving towards the Internet of Things.
Purple divides its offering into two specific segments; WiFi Solutions and Location Services. Free and Enhanced licenses are available for both WiFi Solutions and Location Services.
Purple WiFi is the well-established guest WiFi, analytics, and marketing product. Key features include: • Splash Pages - Create branded splash pages with our drag and drop editor • Email & SMS - Send emails & SMS based on demographics and behavior • Reviews - Connect review platforms and send feedback requests • Content Filtering • Bandwidth Management • Reporting and Insights
Purple Location is a location based services product that works to actually pinpoint devices within physical spaces. Key features include: • Heatmapping • Moving Venues - For Public Transport • WiBeacons - Location Hardware
About Mike Ryan:
Manchester’s first futurist, Mike Ryan, is a highly successful entrepreneur who lives, breathes and practices technological change. As a leading figure in his field, he is an advisor to Harvard Business Review and a Techcast expert. He is the author of Purple’s whitepaper The Future of Hotels. He can be reached on Twitter @mikemanchester
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