As developed markets eat up new spectrum with a voracious appetite, WiFi is becoming an increasingly important solution for smartphone users, who want faster, more ubiquitous and reliable connectivity. Operators are trying to squeeze as much capacity as they can out of their cellular networks, but the mobile broadband infrastructure has inherent limitations.
A remarkable development in the WiFi market is the massive proliferation of community hotspots, also known as homespots. Globally, in just a few years, they have grown to an estimated 53 million by comparison, commercial hotspots, which have been around for much longer, only number 8 million.
The popularity of the homespot model reflects the growing trend towards a sharing economy', where digital technology is used to empower individuals and enable them to share excess capacity in goods and services.
Fon, the pioneer of the dual SSID router for community WiFi networks, is the global leader, but other companies have followed Fon's example and launched their own dual access WiFi systems, for example Free in France, Comcast in the US, and Liberty Global's European subsidiaries.
Interestingly, while 50% of all commercial hotspots are controlled by companies not directly involved in telecom services, the Community WiFi movement is dominated by cable companies, fixed-line telcos, and mobile operators.
This BuddeComm Intelligence report provides unique and valuable information on the global WiFi sector including its role in the future, broad business models, key global statistics, industry developments of note and brief information on other short range technologies.
In South Korea, KT has unveiled a plan to offer broadband services based on combining WiFi and LTE connectivity under the GiGA Path' brand, at speeds of up to 450Mb/s.
Including homespots, the UK has more than one WiFi hotspot for every 11 people, while globally there is more than one hotspot for every 150 people.
Community WiFi programs have been launched in France, the UK, the US, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Poland, Spain, Japan, Israel, Russia, and Portugal, and other countries.
In 2014, four more companies joined the group of Fon collaborators: South African MWEB, OTE in Greece, Jersey's JT Global, and Australia's incumbent telecom provider Telstra.
Telstra in Australia and KT in South Korea both signed deals in 2014 with FON for its homespot WiFi solution. Telstra is rolling out its nationwide WiFi network in 2015, including Telstra built WiFi hotspots and residential homespots created by customers.
In 2014, Brazilian operator Oi doubled its WiFi hotspots to nearly 1 million ahead of the FIFA World Cup.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Fon, BT, SFR, Orange, Comcast, KDDI, Free, Ziggo, Telenet, Oi, Liberty Global, UPC, KPN, AT&T, Telstra, KT, SK Telecom, Ruckus.