WiFi is Changing the Face of Communication

For the past 10 years WiFi has been used for business critical systems in the workplace and for some was seen as a luxury at home. But as the digital age blossoms and our dependency on data consumption increases, demand for public/guest WiFi is growing very fast. The office for national statistics reports that 43.8 million people in the UK used the internet in the last 12 months (86% of the population). Checking your emails on the go, updating your Facebook status, using Google Maps for directions or FaceTime to keep in contact with friends and familywhile away theres nothing more frustrating than the realisation that your mobile signal is rubbish and theres no WiFi available€¦ we rely on it!

Dating back to the early 90s, when it was known as the less than snappy 802.11n, WiFi was initially used for wireless communications between till systems in the Netherlands. This was before the formation of the WiFi Alliance in 1999, when the WiFi trademark was registered.Back then, WiFi had a maximum connection of 1-2 Mbit/s. Today were experiencing speeds up to 866 Mbit/s and its used for everything, from ePos systems and iPhones to wirelessly streaming films to our Televisions.

At home, WiFi is an out-of-the-box solution generally called a WiFi Hub or perhaps a router, with an inbuilt radio which is usually provided by your ISP. Youre likely to only ever come into contact with it if theres something wrong. Outside of the home however, its an entirely different story. The WiFi industry is thriving with new technologies being announced on a daily basis.

2012 saw the introduction of social WiFi: the ability to access public hotspots using Facebook,

Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. This allows businesses offering free WiFi to their customers to benefit from a form of social payment a Like or Follow and posts promoting the use of WiFi at their venue.

Many companies are starting to see the inherent benefits of merging social networking to WiFiconnectivity. 18 months after its launch, the business I work for, Purple WiFi, offers powerful software that natively integrates with some of the worlds leading manufacturers of enterprise WiFi solutions including Ruckus, Cisco and Cisco Meraki. Combined, its a powerful tool offering insights into consumer WiFi usage and retail analytics, heat-mapping and real-time marketing capabilities.

This allows businesses to monetise free guest/public WiFi access and use the information in order to improve in-store experiences by allowing them to understand customer footfall and movement throughout the store. In a similar way that Google Analytics provides information about the interaction of a website, social WiFi with powerful analytics like this will allow the retailer to create a better in-store experience and allow them to tailor the experience based on trends, bridging the gap between online and the real-world.

With the introduction of 802.11ac expected in early 2014 WiFi speeds will increase to over 1 gigabit per second and I expect WiFi will continue to be used in more interesting and useful ways which will benefit both the provider and end user in way which we can only begin to imagine.

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