Las Vegas, NV, January 5, 2018 – The Wi-Fi® industry is not slowing down, and 2018 will see cumulative device shipments surpassing 20 billion units (ABI Research). With more than three billion devices shipping in 2018 and an installed base reaching 9.5 billion, Wi-Fi continues to impact everything from home networking and retail applications to critical business operations around the world. 2018 will present numerous exciting Wi-Fi enhancements, further improving security, capacity, and performance.

The home becomes an enterprise network

Wi-Fi is the digital foundation of the home, and the industry is incorporating best practices from enterprise network deployments into the home. With the emergence of popular personal assistants and everyday connected "things" to next-generation technology such as cordless virtual reality (VR), high-performance Wi-Fi will become even more critical. Wi-Fi Alliance is actively working on a program that will enable Wi-Fi networks to become more sophisticated, bringing a standards-based approach to networks that organize and manage themselves and allowing for greater flexibility and choice in the way Wi-Fi networks are deployed. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Home Design™, delivering professionally-designed, builder-installed Wi-Fi networks, will bring enterprise design
practices to more new home developments. With fixed operators using their own Wi-Fi networks to better control customer experience, managed network features typically associated with stadium, airport, or hotel environments are increasingly making their way into the home. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Vantage™ will be deployed in more networks and user devices to help service operators differentiate customer experience by bringing a common approach to manageability, mobility, and performance – providing a better experience to users in their own homes.

Global Wi-Fi access expands

While Wi-Fi is nearly ubiquitous around the world, the reality is that not everyone has high-speed or, in some cases, basic access to Wi-Fi. The Wall Street Journal reports that about 39 percent of the U.S. rural population, or 23 million people, lack access to broadband Internet service, compared with 4 percent of urban residents. Microsoft’s Rural Airband Initiative and Google’s Project Loon are just two examples of the way organizations are looking to address the digital divide, while initiatives like LinkNYC will offer free public Wi-Fi to deliver connectivity to more users. Understanding the broader
economic value enabled by Wi-Fi around the world, more companies like Facebook will continue to offer low-cost data packages for fast internet via local hotspots, allowing users to participate in the global economy. Companies and cities will continue to lead the way for high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity, not only in rural areas around the world with limited access, but also in metropolitan areas dealing with congested networks. As Wi-Fi network deployments increase, availability of unlicensed spectrum will become even more critical to support the best user experience and ability to innovate. Enterprises, governments, and users around the world will begin to benefit from $5 trillion in cost savings per year with the adoption of smart city technologies, and new research
coming in 2018 will further quantify the value of Wi-Fi worldwide through identification of economic contributions across the globe.

Wi-Fi impacts everyday lifestyle

Users depend on Wi-Fi every day at home and at work, often in ways they do not even realize. Companies including Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, and major airlines all depend on Wi-Fi to perform daily operations – including same-day shipping, streaming media services, mobile access to social media, and even on-time airline departures. In 2018, the industry will celebrate Wi-Fi’s understated role in society and come together to evaluate Wi-Fi’s broader impact. Users will come to understand the deep impact Wi-Fi plays in critical operations around the world.

Enhancing the retail experience.

Smartphones have become the hub for consumers’ digital lives. According to the Data & Marketing Association, 80 percent of millennials use their phones in-store as part of their purchase process, and recent App Annie data shows that the total time spent in retail apps on Android phones increased by nearly 40 percent over the past 12 months. With operators offloading more than 60 percent of mobile data traffic onto Wi-Fi and its availability in major retail stores, updates to existing Wi-Fi programs will further improve the technology behind emerging shopping experiences. Consumer trends
such as voice command purchases through home personal assistants and location-based shopping experiences increase the need for strong Wi-Fi. Augmented Reality (AR) is elevating the consumer experience with its overlay capabilities, enabling shoppers to try on clothes virtually, determine if new furniture will fit and even test out paint colors on walls. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac brings high-performance to deliver AR capabilities and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location™ further optimizes retail experiences by providing location-based information for retailers and consumers. Wi-Fi Aware™ will bring even more benefits for applications to create more personalized retail experiences.

Wi-Fi technologies deliver new capabilities

2018 will bring new enhancements to Wi-Fi technologies and Wi-Fi Alliance® certification programs. The ongoing Wi-Fi security evolution will continue with enhancements to Wi-Fi Protected Access®coming throughout the year. Users can also expect to see new Wi-Fi protocols to provide simplified onboarding of Wi-Fi devices to home networks, helping more easily connect Wi-Fi devices including sprinklers, light bulbs, and water heaters. Wi-Fi Aware will incorporate new capabilities to enhance peer-to-peer communications by enabling information exchange without a network infrastructure. WiGig® will extend its multi-gigabit speeds and expanded capacity to network infrastructure equipment, enabling service providers to use millimeter wave spectrum for point-to-point connectivity as an alternative to fiber. Power saving features will
increase Wi-Fi efficiency in Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios. New enhancements will enable Wi-Fi to expand to new markets and be used in more scenarios than ever before.

The next generation of connectivity emerges

The next generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, will begin to emerge in an era where nearly everyone and a growing number of “things” are connected to the internet. 802.11ax will deliver greater capacity and the ability to provide more users access to high-bandwidth applications and services. 802.11ax builds on existing Wi-Fi techniques and will bring significant benefits in dense network environments. In 2018, 802.11ax will begin to make its way into Wi-Fi chipsets and will help meet growing demands on Wi-Fi networks. As a broader wave of next generation connectivity arrives, including the deployment of 5G networks, Wi-Fi Vantage will bring capabilities existing in cellular networks into the Wi-Fi sphere. Existing Wi-Fi technologies including WiGig and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac are already positioned to bring multi-gigabit speeds and high-performance connectivity to enable a range of 5G opportunities.