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Wi-Fi global economic value to reach $5tn in 2025

Study of the mainstay of in-home work, educational and entertainment communications finds Wi-Fi is a major global economic engine

A new study commissioned by the Wi-Fi Alliance estimates that the annual global economic value of Wi-Fi will reach $3.3tn in 2021 and will track upwards to $4.9tn by 2025, representing 150% growth and nearly $3tn in value from 2018 to 2025.

In its research, the wireless industry trade organisation commissioned a study from Telecom Advisory Services (TAS) to analyse the economic contribution of Wi-Fi in 2021 and forecast to 2025. The study focused on 15 world economies – Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, the UK, the US and the European Union.

The Wi-Fi Alliance calculated an estimated global value based on several key factors and global developments that it said have impacted the Wi-Fi industry. Calculations of each factor – including free Wi-Fi access, residential and enterprise savings, Wi-Fi 6 adoption, availability of 6GHz spectrum and the coronavirus pandemic – were combined with implications specific to each country to develop the economic value.

The study noted that Wi-Fi has been proved to improve economic resiliency and its value continues to increase as next-generation devices and deployments become available. It said Wi-Fi 6 and future generations of Wi-Fi, coupled with access to 6GHz spectrum, provide the capacity, coverage and performance to give quality experiences in demanding environments and further contribute to Wi-Fi’s economic growth by 2025.

The alliance sees Wi-Fi as enabling advanced services and applications and being a key component in global efforts to bridge the digital divide in rural and isolated geographies.

The study saw user benefits for accessing free Wi-Fi networks in public locations, including libraries, cafés and even Wi-Fi buses, while residential consumers, and now remote workers, achieve savings by using home internet and connecting to Wi-Fi over cellular services. In the enterprise domain, the report identified savings by using Wi-Fi to digitise business functions, reduce hard-wired infrastructure, handle more data traffic and deploy what were said to be innovative applications.

The research also cited Wi-Fi ecosystem use cases such as manufacturing, noting that companies bringing Wi-Fi devices and equipment to market, and those providing Wi-Fi-related services such as cloud analytics, personal Wi-Fi access and streaming services. In the 6GHz spectrum environment, the study noted the new spectrum allocations that enable further Wi-Fi innovation, reduce congestion, increase speed and meet increasing demand.

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“Wi-Fi’s inherent strengths have driven the global economic value to new levels and proved to be the answer for meeting the growing demand for connectivity,” said Raul Katz, president of TAS and lead author of the Global economic value of Wi-Fi 2021-2025 study. “Wi-Fi has played a critical role for consumers and businesses during the pandemic. It is important to ensure sufficient spectrum to continue its social and economic benefits now and in the future.”

Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance, added: “Wi-Fi is one of the great technology success stories, and Wi-Fi’s economic contribution gives it a leading role as a global economic engine. As the world relies on Wi-Fi to support our daily lives, the Wi-Fi Alliance remains committed to ensuring the unlicensed spectrum landscape will accommodate tremendous Wi-Fi innovation on the horizon.”

Going forward, the Wi-Fi Alliance predicted that Wi-Fi value may increase even more exponentially in years to come, provided that the economies studied gain access to the 6GHz band. It added that the combination of new technology and additional spectrum has enhanced the economic value of Wi-Fi so far and that market penetration of Wi-Fi 6 and access to the 6GHz band will be drivers to economic value, and essential to meeting estimated value projections and Wi-Fi demand.

The alliance said regulators should seriously consider giving Wi-Fi access to all 1,200MHz in the 6GHz band to take advantage of benefits, both economic and innovative, with more contiguous spectrum, enabling advanced applications such as multigigabit video streaming, unified communications, cloud computing and telepresence.

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