How Wi-Fi is delivering positive, global socioeconomic impact

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| The European | 14 July 2021

Wi-Fi® remains crucial for almost every aspect of our daily lives – connecting with family, colleagues, teachers, friends and doctors, explains Kevin Robinson, SVP of Marketing at Wi-Fi Alliance

We now rely on internet connectivity every day in the western world – always connected through personal devices in one way or another. It is difficult to imagine what life would be like without Wi-Fi. But what many people don’t realise is that 4 billion people around the world do have to live without it. 

Wi-Fi can and will play a crucial role in connecting cities and communities, with huge potential to accelerate socioeconomic development and advance affordable connectivity for the unconnected around the world. 

Wi-Fi is evolving, and Wi-Fi Alliance® thanks policymakers around the world who recognise the value of Wi-Fi and made critically needed 6 GHz spectrum available, thus enabling citizens access to enhanced connectivity, innovation, and socioeconomic benefits brought by Wi-Fi 6E.  

How Wi-Fi is already improving economic value in the western world

Wi-Fi is one of the great technology success stories, and its economic contribution gives it a leading role as a global economic engine. This was demonstrated in a recent study commissioned by Wi-Fi Alliance®, which estimates the annual global economic value of Wi-Fi will reach more than $3 trillion in 2021, growing to $5 trillion by 2025. This demonstrates a 150% growth from 2018 to 2025. 

The 2021 economic value of Wi-Fi in the 27 European Union countries combined is estimated at $457.6 billion and is expected to grow to $637.2 billion by 2025. While the economic value of Wi-Fi in the UK is expected to grow to $109 billion from $99 billion.

Growth in Wi-Fi value in all of these countries has been powered by a boost in Internet of Things (IoT) technology development, the growing adoption of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) use cases, and the increasing importance of free Wi-Fi. But perhaps most importantly, the expected growth rates between now and 2025 are predicted upon the basis that more spectrum is allocated for Wi-Fi in all of these countries.

The functional, social and community benefits of Wi-Fi

Beyond the economics, Wi-Fi has benefits that penetrate much deeper into society. From a functional perspective, it has proven essential for businesses and education organisations to continue delivering to customers and students. On a social level, Wi-Fi has been vital for the mental health of many individuals, enabling us to stay connected and maintain relationships with family and friends. And finally, it has allowed us to continue delivering key services and capabilities to remote and underserved areas of the world. 

Wi-Fi also provides an important platform for free internet access in developing economies, making it critical to economic resiliency – increasing economic growth, and improving social mobility and computer literacy. For example, KT has been doing some brilliant work in Bangladesh, rolling out high speed Wi-Fi infrastructure in an effort to improve the country’s education with distance learning, healthcare with tele-medicine, and agricultural life in collaboration with the developing country’s government. 

Bridging the digital divide

There is no doubt that Wi-Fi helps to improve economic resiliency. Its value will only continue to increase as next generation devices and deployments become available. 

Wi-Fi 6E and future generations of Wi-Fi, coupled with access to 6 GHz spectrum, provide the capacity, coverage, and performance required to give quality experiences in demanding environments and will further contribute to Wi-Fi’s economic growth by 2025. As more regulators around the world begin to recognise the socioeconomic value Wi-Fi delivers, the race is on to open the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi use in more countries around the world. 

Wi-Fi operation in 6 GHz will deliver greater capacity, increased bandwidth, and lower latency to provide the connectivity users have come to expect and deserve. The combination of strong Wi-Fi adoption, new technology and additional spectrum will provide connectivity for users where they need it most. 

Countries like the UK, among many others, have been leading the way in releasing 6 GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi 6E and now it’s time for other countries to follow suit. Now is the time to bring the world closer together through connectivity.

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