Echoing the old saying that some people make it happen, some watch it happen and others wonder what happened, Nick Hulse, Boingo Wireless president, encouraged the audience to get involved in Wi-Fi in his keynote address, Oct. 8, at PCIA’s Wireless Infrastructure Show in Hollywood, Fla.
“The current market conditions and forecasts of future conditions all dictate a convergence in Wi-Fi and in DAS,” Hulse said. “Having both DAS and Wi-Fi in a venue assures connectivity to almost any device and allows cost management by the carriers.”
Hulse said Boingo Wireless was attending PCIA because of the importance to the wireless infrastructure industry of small cells for dealing with device and capacity issues in venues. He quoted reports by comScore and ABI Research that showed Wi-Fi-enabled devices totaling 5 billion at the end of 2012, with projections of 20 billion devices by the end of 2017.
“It is an important time to figure out your commitment to Wi-Fi,” he said. “Are you going to get involved in creating higher capacity indoor networks, and what are you doing to create a better customer experience? Can you get your arms around how not to get left behind?”
The trend that tower owners should find most disturbing is the proliferation of tablets that are Wi-Fi-only, with no chipsets, data plans or relationships with the carriers, according to Hulse.
“You might ask, `Aren’t things working out right now the way they are?’ Maybe not,” he said. “The Wi-Fi-only iPad is one of the top sellers. Is this the beginning of a trend? We will see.”
Hulse was not afraid to drop names as he talked up Wi-Fi. Several companies that are hetnet “doers,” he said, include Ericsson, KDDI, China Telecom and CISCO. Those companies will all profit first and the most, according to Hulse.
“It is pretty clear that with the proliferation of the devices and the demands of the network, no carrier is going to be able to carry it all,” he said. “The game has changed; layered architectures are needed. Everything from macrocells to femtocells to Wi-Fi has to come together to provide the seamless service to the end consumer.”
Next Generation Hotspots
Boingo Wireless has launched the world’s first commercial Next Generation Hotspot Wi-Fi network at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, which uses the PassPoint standard. Hulse invited the audience to take part in the end-to-end testing of the network, which allows automatic identification, authentication and encryption.
Hulse said several OEMs are leading the way in NGH protocol technology, such as Samsung, which embeds a year of free Boingo service in its Galaxy product. More than 50 percent of Apple 5 users opted for NGH. He also mentioned Google’s deal to be the wireless provider for Starbucks and CISCO’s deal with Facebook.