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New technology, consumer preferences, and simple convenience continue to drive the growth of must-have wireless connectivity

Wi-Fi is everywhere. From beaches to cars to cafes, people can connect to the internet from an extremely wide-ranging variety of locations. The driving force for this incredible adoption rate may seem to be pretty straightforward—more people want more opportunities for connection, and thus the need for widespread, high-speed coverage is pushing Wi-Fi initiatives and strategies at a lightning pace. But what else may be driving growth?

Wi-Fi growth numbers

It’s undeniable that Wi-Fi is now the standard for homes and enterprises alike. But the numbers for its growth and the expectations for continued expansion tell a more detailed story:

  • According to data from Markets and Markets, the global Wi-Fi analytics market alone is expected to reach $16.8 billion in 2024, up from $5.3 billion expected for 2019. That’s a whopping 26 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
  • As of the end of last year, there were 1 billion internet users worldwide, up from 3.7 billion users at the end of 2017.
  • In 2018, the internet “influenced” retail sales of $2.84 trillion, and $3.45 trillion is the expected number for 2019.
  • The total number of global, public Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to reach 432.5 million in 2020, which is substantial growth from 64.2 million in 2015, according to the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and World Wi-Fi Day.
  • The WBA also reported that there are 9 billion Wi-Fi devices out there, which is more than the number of people (7.6 billion).

The number of people using wireless internet and the number of wireless devices is just continuing to grow at a fast pace as we move toward 2020 and beyond.

Smartphones as hot spots

Smartphones have had the game-changing influence on the popularity and spread of Wi-Fi—both in terms of increased demand for access to Wi-Fi and the number of hotspots. It is estimated that 81 percent of Americans now own smartphones, up from just 35 percent in 2011, according to Pew Research Center—and these users often have personal and laptops on top of their smartphones.

Smartphones can create their own hot spots using the carrier’s data usage plan, which allows another device to connect to the internet simply by connecting to the phone. Personal hotspots enable users to be connected wirelessly from virtually anywhere that has cell-phone service.

The IoT and wearables

Another driving factor for the spread of Wi-Fi is the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and all of the wearable devices that are continuing to be introduced in today’s market.

Wearable devices encompass everything from smart activity trackers and smartwatches to dedicated health trackers, 3D motion trackers, wearable cameras, and now even smart clothing. These devices can track your vitals, steps, locations and various other metrics and send and receive data to other devices. In the U.S., health monitoring devices have been integral for continuous patient care and monitoring, and wearable fitness trackers are exploding in popularity.

According to Markets and Markets, the wearable market is expected to hit $51.6 billion by 2022. This data shows certain consumer preferences driving the increase in the wearable market; specifically, wanting the latest, most sophisticated gadgets; the growth of the IoT; and the desire to have all devices connect seamlessly.

While this demand means that new devices will continue to enter the scene, it also means that some of the current wearables aren’t necessarily equipped with the right security protections. It also likely signifies that many of them will have short life-cycles as manufacturers innovate to compete for a share in a crowded and rapidly changing market.

Wi-Fi as a service

Wi-Fi as a service is also a game-changer that is driving the growth of the industry. It’s basically subscription-based access that provides the Wi-Fi infrastructure, necessary software, and managed services, like troubleshooting and monitoring services. Wi-Fi as a service helps enterprises and even entire cities have a consistent, reliable, and high-performing wireless network—one that usually makes security a big priority.

Predictions for the future of Wi-Fi

Of course, perhaps the biggest reason for the explosion of Wi-Fi is simply that it’s easy and convenient. Gone are the days when internet users have to physically hook up to anything to gain access. But as more devices and network strategies are developed and as wireless technology expands and improves, keeping individual networks safe and running reliably pose new challenges.

7SIGNAL can help with that. We offer wireless network monitoring services that utilize monitoring sensors—the Sapphire Eye and the Mobile Eye—which collect data about Wi-Fi performance to allow network managers to make fact-based decisions. Our wireless network monitoring solutions maintain a strong, steady Wi-Fi connection in even the most complex environments. And we do it by enabling managers to identify, diagnose, and fix emerging problems fast—before the end-user even realizes they exist.

7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise Wireless Network Monitoring. The 7SIGNAL platform is a cloud-based Wireless Network Monitoring (WNM) solution that continuously troubleshoots the wireless network for performance issues – maximizing network uptime, device connectivity, and network ROI. The platform was designed for the world’s most innovative organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, and government agencies and is currently deployed at Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens, Microsoft, and many others. 7SIGNAL continuously monitors the connectivity of over 4 million global devices. Learn more at www.7signal.com.