Billions of new devices – beside mobile phones, tablets and laptops – are expected to need network connectivity in the future in a trend known commonly as the Internet of Things (IoT). Depending on the proponent of such a trend, we often hear of the benefits expected to accrue to various technology players. For instance, those involved in the mobile phone/cellular industry point to how IoT will drive significant new connections to cellular networks. Likewise, technology companies with exposure to various forms of unlicensed wireless technology such as WLAN, Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc., talk about IoT in the context of driving growth of their particular type of networking technology.
Recently, we estimated that there will be an installed base of nearly 1 billion WLAN network devices in five years. While not all these devices are publicly available for use – only their owners can use many of them – we expect that these WLAN devices will be the primary way that most IoT devices connect to networks. In this context, we expect that businesses need more from their networks as they are increasingly interacting with their customers via mobile devices and from IoT devices. This puts in place a powerful driver to further WLAN infrastructure building. And, these WLAN network owners are incentivized to install WiFi because they won’t incur a monthly charge that would be necessary in order to use cellular connections.