WiFi 6, 6E and 7 top the charts for 2024 deployments

04 December 2023

WiFi 6, 6E and 7 top the list of wireless technologies that network operators, ISPs, device and chipset vendors, enterprises and other companies plan to deploy by the end of 2024 — ahead of CBRS, DAS and private 4G/5G.

Confidence in investment across the sector is rising with 58% saying they are more confident in investing in WiFi compared to a year ago even though the business model remains the most pressing challenge for new deployments. 6GHz spectrum availability also remains front of mind with two thirds deeming it an important issue for 2024.

Those are two key findings from the latest cross-industry report by the Wireless Broadband Alliance, the global industry body dedicated to improving WiFi standards and services. Based on input from 200 enterprises, governments, fixed and mobile operators, vendors, and other organizations worldwide, the WBA Annual Industry Report 2024 showcases how WiFi technology continues to evolve in ways that anticipate the needs of consumers, businesses, enterprise verticals, smart cities, and service providers.

Over 41% of respondents plan to deploy WiFi 7 by the end of 2024. That amount is in addition to the 7.5% that already have and shows that the marketplace already sees a strong business case for WiFi 7. By the end of 2024, over 47% of respondents plan to add WBA OpenRoaming or Passpoint to a new or existing WFi network. Another 33% already have, which is why WBA OpenRoaming is currently available at over 3.5 million hotspots worldwide. All these figures highlight the strong perceived value of a framework that enables users to connect automatically and securely instead of constantly remembering and re-entering credentials.

Enabling seamless interoperability between WiFi and LTE/5G is the top reason for deploying WBA OpenRoaming. This feedback shows that the marketplace perceives the relationship between WiFi and mobile as symbiotic rather than adversarial.

WBA OpenRoaming’s unique combination of convenience and security is ideal for use cases beyond just broadband access. OpenRoaming also offers possibilities for electric vehicle charging stations as well as seamless onboarding, like semi- and fully-autonomous EVs using charging stations to download the HD maps they need to navigate safely and successfully while uploading diagnostic data for preventative maintenance.

Nearly 70% of respondents are either involved with a city-wide public WiFi deployment or plan to be in 2024 or 2025. This activity highlights the ubiquity of WiFi devices (including for IoT), the perceived value of using WiFi to bridge the digital divide and the role that WBA OpenRoaming plays in making it convenient for residents, tourists, and business travellers to connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots.

“The WBA Annual Industry Report 2024 is a must-read for anyone wanting to know exactly where WiFi is and where it’s headed,” said Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance. “Market momentum is a theme in many of the key findings. For example, 58% are more confident in investing in WiFi now than a year ago – up from 46% last year. Specifically, survey respondents are stepping up investment in WBA OpenRoaming, WiFi 7 and city-wide public WiFi. As WBA celebrates its 20th anniversary, we look forward to the next 20 years of pioneering even more WiFi technologies and use cases and developing a robust trails programme for WiFi 7 to take innovation into 2024 and beyond.”