Thirsty for bandwidth, consumers and carriers embrace Wi-Fi® phones
Date: Mon, 07/05/2010 - 17:43 Source: Wi-Fi Alliance press department
The ubiquity of both Wi-Fi technology and advanced mobile phones are ushering in a new age for people who want a high-performance multimedia experience at their fingertips. Carriers, handset makers, and end users are embracing Wi-Fi on the handset for its coverage benefits, bandwidth boost, and wide availability. New data from ABI Research indicates that out of approximately 580 million Wi-Fi devices shipped in 2009, 141 million were handsets.
The momentum of Wi-Fi enabled handsets reflects the recognition of the rigorous Wi-Fi CERTIFIEDTM testing program from the Wi-Fi Alliance®. Wi-Fi handset certification volume grew 142% in 2009 from 2008 levels. To date, more than 500 different handset models are now Wi-Fi CERTIFIED, giving consumers more choices than ever before.
"The phenomenal growth of handsets offering Wi-Fi is no surprise. Carriers and manufacturers have come to know Wi-Fi as a reliable, high-performance technology that's been independently validated in our renowned certification program," said Edgar Figueroa, chief executive officer of the Wi-Fi Alliance. "The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED program helps ensure a seamless user experience when using Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phones."
ABI Research expects this growth trend to continue, forecasting that half a billion Wi-Fi enabled handsets will ship in 2014, with 90 percent of smartphones incorporating Wi-Fi.
"In the age of data-centric multimedia phones, carriers have embraced Wi-Fi technology as a way to offload traffic from licensed spectrum and improve the consumer experience," said Michael Morgan, industry analyst, ABI Research. "We are seeing handset users starting to demand Wi-Fi because of its higher data rate and indoor reception benefits."
The next major technology advancement for handsets is on the horizon -- advanced Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n technology is beginning to appear in mobile phones, offering consumers increased coverage. The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n program incorporates a broad range of performance features required to meet market needs in a wide range of applications.
The first ten Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n handsets have been announced, and given the benefits of this next-generation Wi-Fi technology compared to older generations, the migration toward 802.11n is expected to continue. ABI Research predicts that by 2012, 802.11n will be the predominant Wi-Fi technology in handsets.
Initial handset implementations of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n technology will offer consumers greater effective ranges and improved coverage. Since data transmissions are more efficient with Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n, there is a lower impact to battery life compared to older forms of Wi-Fi technology. Enterprise IT managers will appreciate that Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n networks have greater capacity than legacy networks, allowing more users to be supported on a single network node.
Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n devices also incorporate WMM® (Wi-Fi MultimediaTM) Quality of Service. WMM prioritizes network resources for voice and video applications to improve the performance of real-time applications. All Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices are also tested to ensure that they support advanced WPA2 security capabilities.
Recognizing the need for handsets to be aligned with Wi-Fi industry standards for interoperability, security, easy installation, and reliability, the Wi-Fi Alliance began including mobile phones in its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED program in 2003.