Mobile operators will need state-of-the-art test and monitoring solutions to ensure Wi-Fi networks are of carrier-grade quality
With communication service providers developing strategies to offload mobile traffic to Wi-Fi networks, there is a real need for Wi-Fi testing. This move, primarily driven by the exploding data traffic created by smartphones, indicates that there are strong opportunities for Wi-Fi test equipment manufacturers globally. Smartphones, which accounted for only 27 percent of total global handsets in 2013, contributed to 95 percent of total handset data traffic.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Global Wi-Fi Test Equipment Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $528.9 million in 2013 and estimates this to more-than-double to reach $1.09 billion in 2020. The study covers R&D, quality assurance (QA), manufacturing and field testing application segments.
“More than 55 percent of all mobile data is expected to be offloaded to Wi-Fi networks in 2017, making it imperative for mobile operators to ensure that Wi-Fi networks are of carrier-grade quality,” said Frost & Sullivan Measurement & Instrumentation Program Manager Olga Yashkova-Shapiro. “Wi-Fi technology 802.11ac and robust test and monitoring solutions are critical to achieve correct offloading and minimize overall customer churn.”
Thus far, .11ac testing equipment has been used in the R&D and QA testing phases. However, as the market shifts towards manufacturing and field tests, a new set of intelligent testing solutions is required to address the performance and testing of .11ac products for consumers.
However, IEEE 802.11ac technology poses many challenges from the test and measurement perspective. For instance, the multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) antenna used in .11ac products requires channel emulation for testing radio performance. Vendors will need to set up a testing chamber for controlled RF conditions.
Lack of fixed protocols for testing new standards in the Wi-Fi industry also causes ambiguity in the global Wi-Fi test equipment industry. Often the final standard the Wi-Fi Alliance approves is very different from earlier drafts used to develop many products, making it difficult for test equipment vendors to manufacture compliant products.
“Test equipment vendors must ensure that their products can be updated continuously to avoid becoming obsolete within a few months of the launch,” noted Yashkova-Shapiro. “While some vendors are rolling out such products, many prefer holding off till the final standard is released.”
Overall, the need for relevant testing solutions is intensifying as Wi-Fi moves from being a convenience service to a vital requirement in critical markets such as healthcare and industrial automation. Consequently, test equipment vendors are tasked with rolling out products that are high on performance and quality, and capable of ensuring Wi-Fi networks are rugged, scalable and resilient.
Global Wi-Fi Test Equipment Market is part of the Test & Measurement
Growth Partnership Service program. Frost & Sullivan’s related studies include: Global Wireless Protocol Analyzers, Load Stress Generators and Functional Test and Network Monitoring Systems Market, Global Outlook for Electronic Test Equipment, and Global Communication Test Services Market. All studies included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.