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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Remember the creepy - or amusing, depending on how you treat it - sound that dial-up 56k modems used to make when connecting to the Internet in the late-1990s? Or put it another way: That sound gets you excited or relieved because it was the final step to satisfying your Web fix or getting something really important done.
For those who were born within the past two decades, that's how we from Generation X and a bit of millennials did it. So just imagine how amazed we were when Wi-Fi came along.
Despite not being a full-blown rollout, we're now technically in the 5G age, and we can't emphasise enough how much faster it is compared to the current 4G LTE (a full-HD video download in seconds, for starters). Then there's also Wi-Fi 6, which promises up to four times faster speeds than its predecessor.
Research by Markets and Markets showed that the Wi-Fi sector won't slow down anytime soon, pegging it to be worth $15.6 billion by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 21.2 per cent from 2017's $5.96 billion. This would be driven by the continued growth of mobile devices and the rise of the adoption of the Internet of Things and the bring-your-own-device concept.
Wi-Fi.org, on the other hand, reported that Wi-Fi's global economic value topped $1.96 trillion in 2018, and that this figure will pip the $3.47 trillion mark by 2023.
Gartner, meanwhile, has also said that Wi-Fi will remain the primary high-performance networking technology for homes and offices through 2024. The full rollout of 5G, on the other hand, would take five to eight years, it added.
From a geographic perspective, the enterprise WLAN market saw its strongest growth in the second quarter of 2019 coming from the Middle East and Africa, which rose 14.7 per cent on a year-over-year basis, according to the International Data Corporation.
Of course, as with any new technology, there are apprehensions. As with 5G, there apparently won't be enough Wi-Fi 6 devices to harness its capabailities. Giants such as Google and Amazon - both of which have smart home devices - have also said that Wi-Fi 6 won't make much of a difference in the short term.
"Despite the fanfare, the introduction of Wi-Fi 6 this year was met with cautious optimism, with sceptics citing that the increased bandwidth enabled by Wi-Fi 6, though impressive, will not necessarily be put to use very soon," Jacob Chacko, regional business head for the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and South Africa at HPE Aruba, said.
"We predict that 2020 will usher in a new swath of Wi-Fi 6-enabed services that will deliver the performance, availability and quality of service that is promised by technologies such as 5G. Wi-Fi 6 will be the preferred on ramp to 5G for the majority of enterprise edge applications."
In 2020, the partnership between human workers and machine capabilities will continue to grow, enabling optimisation of workflows, time-saving and more effective communication, according to Lenovo.
"Discovering new ways to collaborate and new ways of connecting across the workforce will be a part of the fabric of business activity, rather than a means of enabling connections between discrete tasks," it added.
Li-Fi to shine a new light
Meanwhile, keep an eye out on Li-Fi, or light fidelity.
Mohamad Saoud, chief systems engineer at Panasonic Marketing MEA's system solutions department, explained to Al Khaleej Today that Li-Fi technology has been developed to drive new innovation in the world of wireless communication. Its aim is to provide secure, reliable, high-speed wireless connection through light waves. Through Li-Fi technology, visible light coming from LED light bulbs function as carrier for data, and can deliver much greater speeds than standard Wi-Fi.
"The technology is seen as having vast usage and is one that holds immense potential as Li-Fi can be used from existing LED bulbs in private homes, as well as in street enabling Internet connection to each and every person walking on the streets. A key benefit of Li-Fi, as touted by the main players of the technology, is its ability to deliver enhanced data safety and security," Saoud said.
Li-Fi uses light wave instead of radio wave for transmitting data, which means data transmission through walls is not possible and therefore eliminating data hacking. Li-Fi is also claimed to be cost- and environment-friendly compared to Wi-Fi.
And the Li-Fi market is growing. Mordor Intelligence says that the sector is expected to register a CAGR of 70.54 per cent during 2019-24 - and will be the key that will unlock light-as-a-service. Global Market Insights says that the industry will be worth $75.5 billion by 2023.
"Key opportunities for the technology include deployment in commercial buildings, private homes, as well as public spaces like bus stations and airports. Among the Li-Fi market drivers, industry studies predict demand to grow across sectors such as automotive and transportation, telecommunication, education, manufacturing, healthcare, energy and retail," Saoud added.
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