Written by Tiago Rodrigues – CEO, Wireless Broadband Alliance

It’s been said before, but bears repeating – 2019 was truly the year that Wi-Fi has come of age. Not only was it the 20th anniversary of what some have called the best invention of the past quarter-century, the official release of WiFi CERTIFIED 6™ from the Wi-Fi Alliance, has opened up new capabilities for the industry that weren’t possible with previous iterations of Wi-Fi. Now, with the dawn of 2020, I want to reflect on the past year and set our sights clearly on the exciting year ahead.

Tiago Rodrigues – CEO, Wireless Broadband Alliance – onstage at last autumn’s Wireless Global Congress in Frankfurt.

2020 will be a transformational year for Wi-Fi

With the aforementioned release of Wi-Fi 6, it’s safe to say that 2020 will give us a glimpse of the true capabilities of the most powerful iteration of Wi-Fi yet. We can expect to see many new use cases and deployments taking place over the next 12 months, and end-users will begin to get a taste of Wi-Fi 6’s potential as new devices are shipped with its out-of-the-box advanced capabilities. In addition, new regulations will lead to more spectrum being made available for unlicensed technologies, and Wi-Fi will take full advantage of this, creating a new era of opportunities for industry and consumers alike. As an organization, WBA will continue to help our membership, and the industry, to accelerate better Wi-Fi services by removing barriers and ensuring that our members are well positioned to take advantage of the huge growth and revenue opportunities. This will help Wi-Fi continue its status as the most widely-used wireless data technology.

WBA’s Wi-Fi 6 Trials

The release of Wi-Fi 6 has enabled the WBA and its members to undertake various trials  to accelerate the adoption of Wi-Fi 6 by testing and implementing in live situations and challenging environments. Most recently, the Mettis Aerospace facility in West Midland, UK, was the site of phase one of its Wi-Fi 6 enterprise and IoT trial  led by WBA members Cisco, Broadcom, Intel and iBwave. This trial – the first of its kind in the world – proved that Wi-Fi 6 services can function in even the most difficult factory environments and has been an overwhelming success so far. 2019 also saw the WBA partner with member company Huawei on Wi-Fi 6 trials at Mondragon University in Spain and we have several more trials lined up for next year that will help to accelerate the overall adoption of Wi-Fi 6 services, including sports arenas/stadiums, Smart Cities, Residential and more. If you or your organization has any interest in Wi-Fi 6, don’t miss the opportunity to work with WBA and be part of the industry’s ongoing transformation!

Wi-Fi Roaming continues to grow

2019 has seen Wi-Fi Roaming continue to evolve and grow, and we believe we  have just scratched the surface of what’s possible with this technology. Roaming federations (based on Next Generation Hotspot with Passpoint) are playing an integral role in making fast, easy, and secure connections to public Wi-Fi networks easier than ever before, and WBA members will continue to trail-blaze the work on these services, ensuring that the way we connect to Wi-Fi will become, by default, seamless, secure and interoperate. In addition, WBA’s Next Generation Hotspot and WRIX standards has been instrumental in the further evolution and development of the roaming and offload business combined with technologies such as Passpoint™, and our case studies – which include connecting thousands of simultaneous users at Mobile World Congress at Fira de Barcelona – will keep proving that this is ‘the’ technology  for large-scale deployments and also in new verticals such as in-flight Wi-Fi and connected vehicles. If your company offers guest or public Wi-Fi services, membership in the WBA will help you build relationships and ensure the best service for your customers in a seamless and secure way. Click here to join!

The Dawn of the Wi-Fi 6 & 5G Era 

Wi-Fi and cellular are the two most predominant wireless technologies in the World and this will continues to be the case with Wi-Fi 6 and 5G. It will be the job of organizations like the WBA – and the wider wireless industry – to drive awareness and help operators and network providers to extract the strongest capabilities of each technology and use them to create better and more advanced networks with the lowest CAPEX/OPEX and the best ROI and performance for customers. As the number of connected devices around the world continues to increase at a stunning rate annually, the convergence of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G will help network providers have a more compelling business model and address the continuous data ‘tsunami’ that will only get stronger as time goes by. WBA and its members are working hard to develop the necessary components that enables Wi-Fi 6 and 5G to coexist harmoniously through the development of WBA guidelines, standards and trials, as well as through collaboration with organizations such as NGMN, IEEE, 3GPP, GSMA and Wi-Fi Alliance.

In closing

As we reflect on WBA’s 2019 it’s important to mention our outgoing CEO, Shrikant Shenwai. Since our organization’s founding in 2003, Shrikant’s leadership and knowledge of the industry were instrumental to our growth, achievements and in WBA becoming the forward-thinking industry body that we are today.

There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of this great industry, and the WBA is honoured to be a part of such a great community that is working hard to ensure a future of connectivity for all. I urge you to join our organization and become a part of something special – if growing your business, engaging with new contacts and driving the best products and services for your customers are your goals, then the WBA is the place to help make that happen. Why not attend one of our exciting events this year? Click here to find out more.

Let’s make Wi-Fi Better together! Join WBA and be part of this revolution.

On behalf of the WBA team, our members and our partners we wish you a safe and happy new year and all the best in 2020. We look forward to working with you!