Over the past 20 years since Wi-Fi was first launched, data speeds have increased and capabilities enhanced to deliver peer-to-peer connectivity and multi-gigabit performance and seamless authentication and roaming. The technology has enabled more productive and flexible work environments, and opened entirely new markets because of its ability to deliver flexible, affordable connectivity.
Wi-Fi will continue its momentum in 2019 with cumulative device shipments reaching 30 billion – more than 4 billion Wi-Fi devices will ship this year alone, expanding Wi-Fi’s installed base to over 13 billion.
Below is a preview of what is ahead for Wi-Fi in 2019:
- Next-generation Wi-Fi: New terminologies were introduced to define Wi-Fi generations and to differentiate their capabilities for easier consumer choice. In 2019, Wi-Fi 6 will begin making its way into more access points and consumer products to increase their speeds and performance – and offer improved capabilities in congested environments like stadiums and transport hubs. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 will be available Q3 2019 and will be an inflection point for wide-scale adoption of Wi-Fi 6, ensuring the latest devices meet industry standards for interoperability and security.
- Evolving Wi-Fi security: Homes and devices get smarter and more feature-rich, helping mobile devices interact with smart-home objects and bringing more efficiencies and greater productivity through connected services at the office. While smart devices have become more common, users are still concerned with securing their personal information. With greater adoption of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WPA3, the marketplace will begin seeing an enhanced level of security in home and enterprise networks. Public venues with open Wi-Fi networks will also get a boost with Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Enhanced Open, providing data encryption that maintains the ease of use of open networks.
- Mid-band unlicensed spectrum: Unlicensed spectrum has become one of society’s most valuable resources. Last year, Wi-Fi contributed nearly US$2 trillion in global economic value, and is expected to surpass $3.47 trillion by 2023. Additional unlicensed spectrum will be important to maintaining a good user experience with Wi-Fi devices. In 2019, Wi-Fi Alliance will continue advocating for additional unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi in both the 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands, working with policymakers and regulators around the world, to ensure Wi-Fi continues to innovate and provide a good user experience.
- Advanced Wi-Fi use cases become ‘reality’: In 2019, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies will step up to broader adoption where they will begin impacting experiences in offices, sports arenas and homes. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WiGig will deliver multi-gigabit speeds and low latency for more robust AR and VR experiences.
- Whole-home Wi-Fi coverage: As homes become increasingly more connected, Wi-Fi mesh systems have increased in popularity to deliver reliable coverage to every area of a home. Several vendors have introduced Wi-Fi mesh solutions, and a wave of mesh products are beginning to incorporate Wi-Fi 6 to meet the surge in home network traffic. Device vendors will leverage Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh to bring a standards-based approach to Wi-Fi networks that utilize multiple access points, allowing greater flexibility in device choice that comes with interoperable Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices. New home buyers can also purchase homes that integrate professionally designed Wi-Fi networks directly into floorplans with Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Home Design.