We were delighted to have had the opportunity to attend the WiFi Now Conference in London this October. Wi-Fi NOW is the world’s no. 1 event & media company for the Wi-Fi industry and Claus and his team put on a wonderful show. We look forward to seeing them again soon in Washington DC!
Couldn’t attend? Here’s a quick insight into the hot industry topics that were on the lips of the speakers, vendors and attendees at this year’s event.
Spectrum – We need more and we need it now!
Spectrum is the air we breathe in wireless.
Unfortunately, its growth up until now has not been in line with increasing wireless demand. The number of connected devices is flourishing, and with recent advances in Virtual Reality and Ultra High Definition video streaming (by 2020, 75% of mobile data traffic will be video, according to Jason Byrne of Greenlee Communications), mobile data and Wi-Fi are being pushed to their absolute limits.
What can be done? In the future there will be less space in the wireless spectrum as it is overcrowded with more and more connected devices. Although this has been increased in the 5GHz band, more will be needed in order to support our ever-expanding wireless culture. It has been argued that increased utilization of the 5GHz band is liable to result in pronounced congestion. Wi-Fi and mobile networks are bottlenecking, causing low bandwidth, high latency and driving the need for optimized spectrum.
At the recent Wi-Fi Now event, during the Future of in Home Wi-Fi Debate, a number of experts including Google’s Shanjay Noronha and Quantenna’s Stephane Renaud, expressed their desire for increased spectrum availability, more efficient spectrum use and the opening of new channels.
Edgar Figueroa, CEO & Chairman of Wi-Fi Alliance introduced ‘WiGig’, which allows Wi-Fi devices to access the uncongested 60 GHz frequency band with wide channels to transmit data efficiently at multi-gigabit per second speeds.
Smarter Cities and Intelligent Furniture
Smart cities integrate ICT and IoT securely to manage a city’s assets. These smart cities connect everything – buildings, lights, meters, and streets – to the Internet through the power of Wi-Fi.
Citizens and tourists are connected city-wide to free, high speed public Wi-Fi. City service providers have access to real time data to gain insight into how a city functions and how its citizens live, which can help them provide better, more efficient services. Real-time parking availability makes cities greener and more liveable. Congestion can be reduced through traffic management systems. Endless opportunities present themselves in this connected utopia.
While this technology may appear to be suited to newer developments, the LinkNYC case study is testament to how this infrastructure can be integrated into ‘street furniture’ already in place. LinkNYC is a new communications network that is replacing New York City pay phones with state-of-the-art kiosks called Links which provide high-speed Wi-Fi, phone calls to anywhere in the U.S., device charging, a touch screen tablet for access to city services, maps and directions, and a 911 Emergency Call button. All of these services are free to use.
And this is at no loss; “LinkNYC will provide $500+ million in revenue for NYC over 12 years” - Dan Rabbinovitsj, COO, Ruckus Wireless (providers of LinkNYC’s Gigabit Wi-Fi). Revenue is drawn from advertising and sponsorship.
We also had the pleasure of meeting members of the ‘Purple’ team at the WI-Fi Now Conference (Alliances Director Kerry Wright gave a fascinating talk on intelligent spaces) who explained how they help to generate huge amounts of data that can be used intelligently by city officials. Purple is already helping cities to talk directly to shoppers and tourists, offering promotions directly and in combination with centre retailers.
Coverage Offloading – Get on the Wi-Fi!
Mobile data offloading is the complementary use of network technologies for delivering data originally targeted for cellular networks. Offloading reduces the amount of data being carried on cellular bands, freeing bandwidth for other users. By offloading users from 3G/4G networks to Wi-Fi, mobile operators can add more capacity in an affordable and flexible way.
For network providers, it improves bandwidth and network quality. For venue’s providing Wi-Fi (Hotel’s, Stadiums, Airports, etc.) the bridging of carrier networks with venue Wi-Fi offers unique revenue opportunities.
“First automatic login, then user engagement”
-Johan Terve, VP, Aptilo Networks
The glorious world of the Internet of Things
As we all know, IoT needs a standardized technology for connecting devices to each other or the cloud. There are many standards and proprietary solutions used for connecting things to each other or to the cloud: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Active RFID, loWPAN to name a few. Among these, Wi-Fi has emerged as the ubiquitous standard of connectivity for IoT however it does have limitations that keep devices from connecting quite as efficiently as they could. Now, there’s a plan in place to fix it. The Wi-Fi Alliance have announced the development of HaLow, a low power Wi-Fi solution and the latest iteration of this increasingly indispensable technology. It is low cost, low power, secure and rapid. As well as this, it will play a big part in the machine to machine (M2M) connectivity in smart homes and cities of the future.
“Wi-Fi HaLow is well suited to meet the unique needs of the Smart Home, Smart City, and industrial markets,” says Edgar Figueroa, Wi-Fi Alliance President and CEO.
The Internet of Things is changing the game for data access. The data from devices in the Internet of Things will become one of the “killer apps” for the cloud and a driver of petabyte scale data explosion.
While these recent developments are all very exciting, IoT has often fallen victim to regulatory issues that have stalled its advancement. Also, security has proven itself to be a major concern, a problem we address here.
Intelligent Spaces & Customer Analysis
From jet engines bolted on airliners to pacemakers embedded in hearts, the increasingly interconnectedness of devices around us mean we can see our world in completely new ways. Ultimately, this empowers innovation that's not only data-driven but deeply human-centric.
Spaces that learn and react to customer behaviour are the new exciting marketing tool on the scene. Retailers are looking for more sophisticated ways to understand customer buying behaviour and want to take advantage of tempting insights from technology and data analytics.
Data gathered from in-store Wi-Fi hotspots offers retailers a myriad of information about their customers, and now companies are looking to turn the big data they’ve gathered into smart data that can be used as a marketing tool.
Analytics tools use data to create a detailed map of customer behaviour from the moment they walk into the store. heat mapping their movement around the store. Utilize this in conjunction with a sales system and this data builds a picture of how well your store performs in terms of any amount of metrics you can imagine. Is your stock displayed in the best way possible? Could queues be more efficient? Where do my customers spend most of their time in my store? The granular information gathered offers unique metrics to retailers which can be used to drive efficiency and revenue.
The gap between the physical and digital worlds is getting smaller and smaller.
A Special Mention
To the wonderfully eclectic Cucumber Tony, whose wooden-laden, cucumber-clad beach themed display certainly livened up the event, or was that the free G&T’s provided? Anyway, our team will certainly be happy to bump into you again!