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Mobile, IoT and cloud biggest drivers for Wi-Fi growth

The intersection of mobility, the IoT and cloud will be the driving forces behind wireless network deployments over the next few years

Having gone from connecting laptops to enterprise networks, to enabling bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, and most recently to delivering mobile multimedia experiences, the intersection of mobile, the internet of things (IoT) and cloud will drive growth in Wi-Fi networking during the next five years, according to Keerti Melkote, co-founder and president of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s (HPE’s) fixed and wireless network business Aruba.

This is reflected in, for example, the growth of Wi-Fi connectivity on planes, the use of the IoT in farming, and what Melkote referred to as Nation 3.0.

Speaking at Aruba’s annual Atmosphere EMEA event, currently underway in Croatia, Melkote drew on the experience of his childhood home, India, where the government wants to push mobile connectivity as a means to bring the unbanked into the financial system by giving every citizen a digital identity. The country is building out a national network to connect rural villages using Wi-Fi at the front end because a great number of Indians are unable to afford mobile data plans.

More and more compute power is now being delivered at the edge of the network, whether that is in autonomous vehicles, drones, robotics and so on, said Melkote. This trend will continue to increase.

“Distributed intelligence at the edge operates in a disconnected way – it doesn’t rely on the cloud however the learning that happens is done through a centralised brain that sits in the cloud,” he said.

As previously explored by Computer Weekly, at London’s Gatwick Airport, which was plagued by massive outages on its legacy campus network when CIO Cathal Corcoran joined the business a couple of years ago, an 18-month long upgrade has seen an extensive deployment of Aruba’s networking technology.

Gatwick has effectively created a mini smart city, layering multiple new services over a single network infrastructure.

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For example, Gatwick’s analytics service, which uses Wi-Fi to track the so-called “kerb to gate” movement of passengers, found that Canadian and Chinese passengers were buying a lot of Scotch whisky in its outlets.

“If you put a Scotsman out in a kilt at four o’clock, you sell a lot more whisky. We use insights like that to be better retailers,” said Corcoran.

For Michael Cole, chief technology officer at golf’s European Tour and Ryder Cup, Aruba has enabled his organisation to focus on enhancing the experience for spectators and fans at golf courses, creating a connected golf course for the Ryder Cup’s first foray away from UK shores in many years.

“I want fans to be pleasantly surprised by the level of interactivity we can now offer them,” he said.

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