WiFi (“wireless fidelity”) is the common name for technology used to communicate wirelessly over a network. While WiFi technology has been around for over 15 years, the market has recently seen a dramatic resurgence due to a singular development – the explosive proliferation of smartphones for data consumption.
WiFi technology uses a portion of the radio frequency spectrum that is unlicensed by any regulatory authority. This crowded radio band is used by a wide array of other applications as well, including cordless phones, pagers and even microwave ovens. Wi-Fi technology can be deployed by anyone wishing to provide wireless data connectivity to their employees, tenants, guests, shoppers or customers. Typically, connectivity is provided to enable internet access or business applications. However, regardless of the intent, a singular common characteristic of all deployments is that the customers are all enabled by smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices.
WiFi technology can and does support many different business strategies. Cable companies, mobile operators, wire line telecom providers, property owners, retailers and entrepreneurs all support their day-to-day business by using Wi-Fi as part of a broader mix of spectrum/technology deployments.
In Canada, over the last twenty-four (24) months, mobile providers have dramatically increased the activation of smartphones on their networks. As of Q1/2012 there were 26 million cellular devices activated, of which over 70% were smartphones. Additionally, Wi-Fi is a standard feature among all mobile connected devices. The number of WiFi enabled mobile devices actually exceeds the number of cellular devices.
From a consumer perspective, continuous connectivity to the internet is no longer a “nice to have”, but an expectation. Access to social networks, business, friends and families as well as comparison shopping and retail mobile applications are maintained mostly through the use of cellular devices. Connectivity on a real time, continuous basis is a paramount expectation when consumers travel within the malls, office complexes or other public spaces where there is an opportunity to congregate. The consumer is unconcerned about how they are connected- they just want to be connected.
What does this all mean to building owners and operators, and how can they take advantage of WiFi technology to drive and support business opportunities? Contact RYCOM TPM today to find out!