Smart Cities, Dual-Band Routers and IEEE Standard Evolution Will Make Outdoor Wi-Fi a Global Reality

Digital Content Market

In a culture that thrives on connectivity, Wi-Fi is key. From a consumer perspective, no bar, restaurant or café is complete without free internet access.

And this demand for accessible Wi-Fi is starting to invade outdoor spaces as well, with the global outdoor Wi-Fi market expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.8% from 2014-2019.


But consumer demand itself is not the only factor inspiring growth in outdoor Wi-Fi. Some serious advances in technology and standards are behind the strong market projections for outdoor Wi-Fi.

Development of smart cities

Currently, government organizations worldwide are investing billions of dollars in the development of smart cities. These cities require public Wi-Fi networks to provide services, which run the gamut from waste, water, traffic and infrastructure management, to healthcare and education services.

They also provide location-based services to city planners to gain insight into how a smart city functions and how its citizens live. For instance, Wi-Fi provides information on real-time parking availability and traffic information, which helps reduce congestion.

In China, the government’s five-year plan focuses on urbanization and the development of smart cities. The development of a smart city includes identifying an urban area and facilitating economic growth and improved quality of life through the use of technologies such as M2M. Databases and network systems in such a city are connected to cameras, sensors, and control systems and technology is used for allocating services, managing traffic and inventory, and managing and transferring information.

All of this is creating huge demand for ubiquitous Wi-Fi, in order to connect all the people, systems, and services that keep a smart city running.

Emergence of dual-band routers

Wi-Fi technology uses 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies for data transfer. Most devices use the 2.4 GHz frequency, which makes this frequency overcrowded and slower. To deal with this, a large number of vendors are focusing on developing dual-band routers that support both frequencies at the same time, which consist of two different types of wireless radios that can support connections on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. This would allow a user to pick up and connect to the strongest Wi-Fi signal, and ultimately ensure better connectivity.

Evolution of IEEE 802.11 wireless standard

The continuous evolution of the IEEE 801.11 standard has a significant impact on the global outdoor Wi-Fi market. In 1997, IEEE created the first LAN standard, 802.11, that could support a maximum bandwidth of 2 mbps. In 1999, the 802.11a and 802.11b standards were released. The 802.11b standard was created to support bandwidths up to 11 mbps.

The cost of 802.11a was comparatively higher than 802.11b because 802.11a catered to business networks and 802.11b was used for home networks. From 2003-2013, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac were released. These provide faster speed, a higher signal range, and less interference.

The continuous evolution of the IEEE 802.11 wireless standard is expected to foster the growth of the market during the forecast period.