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WiFi device sales to reach $19bn by 2011

28 апреля 2008

Sales of WiFi-enabled devices are expected to reach $19 billion by 2011, with the technology being embedded in 325 million products, according to the WiFi Alliance.

The industry body this week said that WiFi is now being used by 450 million people worldwide, and that growth is being driven primarily by the rising number of WiFi-enabled consumer electronic devices, particularly mobile handsets.

"There are a number of contributing elements to the growth of WiFi-enabled handsets," said Edgar Figueroa, executive director of the WiFi Alliance.

"The vendors obviously look at it from a feature set point of view, while the operators see an opportunity to provide converged services such as VoIP and voice over UMA (unlicensed mobile access), as well as an opportunity for content delivery," he said.

Figueroa also highlighted the incentives from an end-user perspective.

"The user experience of browsing the Internet on a mobile at the moment using anything other than WiFi is akin to dial-up, and as consumers we like to think we've moved beyond that now," he said.

"WiFi speeds are compelling and at the moment hard to match when using 3G," he added.

However, continuing rollouts of HSDPA networks, coupled with the prospect of LTE and WiMAX in the pipeline, means connection speed is not going to be a differentiator for long. But Figueroa is not worried.

"There's a lot of flux in terms of what 4G technologies are going to emerge, but WiFi will still be there afterwards," he said.

"WiFi has a unique position among other wireless technologies in that it operates on unlicensed spectrum, which means anyone can create a business around providing access. What's more the chipsets cost less than $10," he commented.

Furthermore, Figueroa said that WiFi technology will maintain a strong position in the home, again due to its occupation of unlicensed airwaves.

"People are not going to want to involve their telcos when they transfer their videos and photos around their homes," he said.

In terms of operators charging for WiFi access, Figueroa said there is no definitive model.

"The business models for [WiFi] hotspots and cellular are like real estate – the prices vary widely around the world. In some markets it's bundled, in others you pay a premium; it's highly localised and will continue to be the case," he said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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