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Wi-Fi® predictions from Cisco’s Annual Internet Report

March 18, 2020 by The Beacon

Since Wi-Fi® was first introduced in the late 1990s, its impact on the world has been enormous.
Wi-Fi brought connectivity to locations that were previously out of reach for wired connections, made it more convenient and affordable to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues, and has made collaboration and innovation considerably easier. More than 20 years after the first Wi-Fi device came to market, it now contributes more than $2 trillion to the global economy each year.

While Wi-Fi’s history is impressive, its future abounds with potential. This year, Cisco released its Annual Internet Report– previously known as the Visual Network Index (VNI). Among its extensive research findings, the report outlines exciting Wi-Fi trends to expect soon.

Wi-Fi will connect more networked devices per person

In 2018, the average number of devices per person worldwide was 2.4. That number is expected to jump to an average of 3.6 devices per person around the globe by the year 2023. Devices per capita will vary significantly by region and country.

North America and Western Europe will see the most connected devices, with an average of 13.4 and 9.4 devices per person, respectively. When analyzed by country, the United States is expected to support the most devices per person, with 13.6 devices. Korea and Japan are close behind with an expected 12.1 devices per person in Korea, and 11.1 per person in Japan.

Wi-Fi will see exponential hotspot growth

As the number of devices per person continues to increase, the demand for connectivity also spirals upward. To ensure sufficient connectivity for an anticipated 29.3 billion networked devices by 2023, the number of public hotspots will increase exponentially.

In 2018, there were 169 million global public hotspots. By 2023, that number will climb to a total of 628 million global public Wi-Fi hotspots. Of those public Wi-Fi hotspots, 11 percent will be Wi-Fi 6 enabled by 2023, ensuring optimal connectivity and high speed, and efficient performance even in congested public areas.

Wi-Fi connection speeds will triple

By 2023, sixty-six percent of the world’s population will be internet users. And as the number of users will grow, the quality of their Wi-Fi experience will also improve. Wi-Fi users in 2023 will experience historically fast Wi-Fi speeds of up to 92 Mbps—triple the average speed of a Wi-Fi connection in 2018 at 30 Mbps.

Wi-Fi will be key in the expansion of 5G

As more 5G networks are deployed, Wi-Fi will play a crucial role in a variety of use cases for 5G connectivity. The technologies will be complements, and when working together Wi-Fi and 5G will provide higher data rates that will result in increased network capacity with the ability to support more devices and applications.

Wi-Fi has contributed to the global economy, society, and culture in ways that seemed unimaginable when it was first introduced over 20 years ago. According to the report findings, it appears its contributions have only just begun. Wi-Fi will only continue connecting everyone, everything, everywhere.


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  • A day without Wi-Fi
  • What Wi-Fi trends are expected in 2020?
  • Wi-Fi 6 at CES 2019
  • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™: Seamless, secure, easy-to-use Wi-Fi® hotspots
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Frequently Asked Questions
  • How does Passpoint support service provider branding and customer relationships?

    Passpoint enabled mobile devices can choose networks based on a list of preferred (direct or partner) providers, specific services and/or the best performance characteristics. For service providers offering a managed experience, seamless authentication is a valuable element, and Passpoint networks also support deployments where a click-through screen is essential for acceptance of terms and conditions or branding.

  • How does Passpoint equipment support Wi-Fi roaming?

    Passpoint devices use industry-agreed uniform mechanisms for discovering and creating secured connections to hotspots. This allows a subscriber to experience seamless Wi-Fi connectivity to a hotspot anywhere in the world a user’s provider has roaming agreements. Passpoint is specified as a requirement for the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s industry work on Wi-Fi roaming.

  • What standards does Passpoint draw on?

    Passpoint is based on Hotspot 2.0 technology and makes use of elements of IEEE 802.1X, 802.11u, 802.11i, WPA2-Enterprise and WPA3™-Enterprise security, as well as some Wi-Fi Alliance defined mechanisms.

  • Who created the Passpoint program?

    Members of Wi-Fi Alliance created the program. The group which developed Passpoint includes service providers, mobile operators, fixed line operators, and makers of mobile devices and infrastructure equipment.

  • What does Passpoint mean for end users?

    In short, Passpoint provides a better Wi-Fi user experience while mobile. Users with certified Passpoint devices can enjoy the benefits of streamlined network selection and secure connectivity at Passpoint enabled hotspots. Passpoint-enabled devices operate based on user preference.

  • What does Passpoint bring to hospitality?

    Hospitality chains may own many brands but a single consolidated rewards program. Without Passpoint, either the rewards program SSID needs to be added at every hotel or users’ phones must be configured with several SSIDs. Passpoint can function with a single profile that identifies the rewards program instead of a hotel SSID. When a user visits an associated property, their device will automatically identify the access point and connect.

  • Can existing equipment be upgraded for Passpoint?

    The hardware and software platform of a given device determines whether it can be upgraded in the field. Equipment that has previously undergone certification testing can be updated and resubmitted for Passpoint certification.

  • Does Passpoint support voice over Wi-Fi?

    The scope of Passpoint testing is to ensure that the mechanisms for seamless discovery and creation of a secured link are implemented correctly. It is application-agnostic.

  • Are Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products protected by security?

    Yes. All Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products are tested for WPA2 or WPA3. The only way to be sure that a product meets the latest security standards is to purchase only Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products.


  • Which Wi-Fi Vantage technologies help quickly connect to another AP or another network?

    Wi-Fi Agile Multiband: Fast Basic Service Set (BSS) Transition, also known as Fast Transition, is based on IEEE 802.11r. Fast Transition enables devices to reauthenticate quickly with WPA2 security when roaming within the same Wi-Fi network, improving experience with latency sensitive applications such as voice over Wi-Fi.

    Wi-Fi Optimized Connectivity: Fast Initial Link Setup (FILS) Authentication is a mechanism defined in IEEE 802.11ai to enable fast authentication to APs using WPA2-Enterprise security.

  • Why should end users purchase Wi-Fi Vantage devices?

    Devices that are certified for Wi-Fi Vantage represent the most recent and interoperable Wi-Fi technologies for managed networks. Users will experience fewer connection interruptions during calls or video streaming, even while traversing through a transportation hub like a large airport. These devices, when used in a Wi-Fi Vantage enabled network, bring a more seamless and consistent connection and therefore a better mobile experience.

  • What is a managed network?

    Managed networks are Wi-Fi networks, such as those operated in airports, stadiums, schools, office buildings, retail and hotel locations and other venues, that are “managed” by network administrators to optimize their coverage, performance, and network access. These networks are frequently open to the public or offer access to subscribers.

  • What features are available in Wi-Fi Vantage devices today?

    Wi-Fi Vantage will evolve over time to introduce more advanced features as they become available. Today, all Wi-Fi Vantage devices contain the following enhanced feature sets to offer users the best experience when connecting to managed Wi-Fi networks:

    • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint with Online Signup and Policy Provisioning
    • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac with advanced features of beamforming, concurrent dual band operation, and low density parity check  

    Wi-Fi Vantage adds the following feature sets to devices in 2018:

    • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Agile Multiband, enabling devices to quickly identify and transition to a recommended AP, frequency band, or channel that gives the best connection
    • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Optimized Connectivity improves roaming within a Wi-Fi network or to another network through optimized discovery, authentication, and reduced management frames
  • What features are planned for Wi-Fi Vantage devices in future generations?

    Future generations of Wi-Fi Vantage will add enhancements in network access, frequency band and channel management, and reduced connection times, resulting in improved roaming and management of Wi-Fi networks.

  • What is the Converged Wireless Group RF Profile Test?

    The Converged Wireless Group RF Profile Test is a test plan that was jointly developed by CTIA® and Wi-Fi Alliance® to provide detailed radio frequency performance profile in a mixed-network (Wi-Fi and Cellular) environment. Manufacturers of converged handsets and Wi-Fi networking infrastructure devices (access points) can participate in this test program to provide carriers with independent evaluations of their equipment, and carriers can use the test reports to compare handsets from different manufacturers. Completion of CWG testing does not result in a Wi-Fi certification.

  • What is the benefit of the Converged Wireless RF Profile Test to carriers?

    This industry-supported program provides detailed information about the RF performance of the Wi-Fi radio in a converged handset, as well as how the cellular and Wi-Fi radios impact one another. It provides a uniform evaluation approach that enables a standard way to contrast and compare converged devices.

  • What are the tests included in the Converged Wireless RF Profile?

    The comprehensive over-the-air testing program provides detailed measurements on key parameters, described in layperson terms below. The measurements are taken in a 360-degree environment in order to create “real-world” conditions:

    • Measurements to provide information about the reach of a Wi-Fi radio signal sent by a converged phone or AP, called transmit power (TRP, or Total Radiated Power)
    • Measurements to provide information about how well the Wi-Fi radio can detect an incoming signal in a converged phone or AP, called receive sensitivity (TIS, or Total Isotropic Sensitivity)

    In addition, the program includes:

    • Measurement of the signals ahead of the Wi-Fi antenna, called conducted power and sensitivity
    • Measurement of the reduction in sensitivity (desensitization) of a Wi-Fi receiver caused by the presence of an active cellular transmitter, and to ensure that the performance of the Wi-Fi receiver is within acceptable limits
    • Measurements of the desensitization of a cellular receiver caused by the presence of an active Wi-Fi transmitter, and to ensure that the performance of the cellular receiver is within acceptable limits

    To complete the testing a device must also be Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ for core Wi-Fi interoperability and WPA2™ security, and CTIA certified for cellular performance.

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