Wi-Fi offloading will drive up revenues for test equipment, report says

Mobile operators offloading their data traffic to Wi-Fi need the latest and greatest testing and monitoring solutions to ensure the Wi-Fi networks being used meet carrier-grade quality requirements, and that will drive continued growth in the market for Wi-Fi test equipment, according to a new study from Frost & Sullivan.

"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 and Instrumentation Program Manager Olga Yashkova-Shapiro.

The firm said the global Wi-Fi test equipment market generated revenues of $528.9 million during 2013. Revenues are expected to more than double, reaching $1.09 billion in 2020.

Test equipment for the latest generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac, is currently used in the research and development (R&D) and quality assurance (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," Frost & Sullivan said.

The firm noted, however, that 802.11ac's features pose testing challenges. "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," Frost & Sullivan said.

The firm also cited testing problems caused by changes in Wi-Fi gear as a standard develops. It noted that the final standard the Wi-Fi Alliance approves is often very different from earlier drafts used to develop many products, making it difficult for test equipment vendors to manufacture compliant test platforms. Frost & Sullivan suggested test equipment vendors either ensure their products can be updated continuously or hold off on releasing products until a final standard is released.

For more:
- see this Frost & Sullivan release

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Wi-Fi Alliance says 802.11ac-certified devices will drive more Wi-Fi offloading