Once a thorn in their network strategies, WiFi is now most wireless operators' saving grace. It's become an integral part of carrier networks, and the availability, quality, and handoff experience continues to improve.
It's an interesting time for WiFi in the wireless industry. For the most part, WiFi had to compete for attention with LTE network deployments in 2013, says Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown. All the backhaul improvements, core upgrades, and R&D went to the 4G network. But that could start to change in 2014. Already, most mobile usage is happening over WiFi rather than cellular, and next year, many operators will turn their attention to building out their LTE networks with small cells and WiFi.
Brown says to expect a lot of interesting developments to continue in 2014, including Hotspot 2.0 progress, a growing interest in venue services, carrier bonding with LTE and WiFi, and R&D on multipath TCP.
For our list of Carrier WiFi movers and shakers, we took a broad look at the industry and identified those companies being aggressive in adding WiFi access points (AP), innovating on how they monetize them, and working ahead on those developments that will define 2014.
We've focused here on the mobile industry, but that's not to ignore the work that's going on in the cable industry, where WiFi is becoming a huge priority. As such we've also included a page devoted to cable's movers and shakers, but we plan to look at them more closely in future coverage. (See Small Cells: The Battle for the Lamp Post, Cable WiFi Hotspots Could Hit 1M in Year, and Can Cable WiFi Scale?.)
So here's our resulting list of 10 people to keep an eye on, presented in no particular order. As with our Small Cells Movers & Shakers list -- WiFi's kissing cousin -- some of the names may be familiar, coming from big operators, while others represent new startups on the scene, each with innovative ideas about how to make WiFi work.
As always, please let us know what you think in the comments section below. Does your time siphoning free WiFi from coffee shops give you a different opinion? Anyone you'd add or take away? Feel free to weigh in on the message boards.
- Page 2: Selina Lo, CEO, Ruckus Wireless
- Page 3: Alex Puregger, Managing Director and COO, Fon
- Page 4: Dr. Derek Peterson, SVP of Engineering, Boingo
- Page 5: Dave Fraser, CEO, Devicescape
- Page 6: Jim Mulcahy, EVP and General of Manager, Republic Wireless
- Page 7: Pertti Visuri, CEO, BandwidthX
- Page 8: Tal Tamir, CEO, Wilocity
- Page 9: Bob Friday, CTO, Enterprise Networking Group, Cisco
- Page 10: Gavin Franks, Managing Director, Commerce, Telefónica O2 UK
- Page 11: Chris Bruce, Director, International Sales & Consulting, BT Global Telecom Markets
- Page 12: Cable WiFi Movers & Shakers
- Page 13: Others to Keep an Eye on
- Top 6 Small Cells Movers & Shakers
- Cable WiFi Hotspots Could Hit 1M in Year
- WiFi Passpoint: Ready for Prime Time
- Republic Wireless Revamps Its WiFi Handoff
- Cisco Invests in Wilocity to Speed Enterprise WiFi
- Gowex to Merge Business, Carrier WiFi in NYC
- Can Cable WiFi Scale?
- AirPlug Boosts Capacity With LTE/WiFi Blend
- The Changing Face of 'Amenity WiFi'
- In the Air Tonight: Cisco & Facebook's WiFi Tie-Up
- WiFi Wars: San Fran Trumps NYC
- 2013 Leading Lights Finalists: Most Innovative Carrier WiFi Deployment
- Top 10 Carrier WiFi Worries
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading