1. News
July 20, 2018updated 23 Jul 2018 3:33pm

364 million homes could soon have multi-AP WiFi

By Ellen Daniel

364 million homes will be equipped with multiple WiFi access points – known as multi-AP WiFi – in the next five years, according to a recent study.

Conducted by research and analysis company Rethink Technology Research, the study, called “The multi-AP WiFi revolution: How WiFi jumps 10x and takes over the world,” is the first major research project looking into this topic.

It predicts that by 2023, cloud management software will control 658 million wifi homes, with software worth $346m. Furthermore, by 2023 some 364 million of those homes will have more than a single access point.

What is multi-AP WiFi?

Multi access point WiFi is when there is more than one access point within a building, rather than a single point. As the number of devices requiring WiFi in the home increases, there is a greater need for consistent WiFi connectivity throughout. WiFi repeaters and extenders mean that multiple access points (APs) can cooperate to create a home WiFi network.

The coverage of single AP is limited, so in order to extend the coverage of wireless networks, multi-AP wifi, in either extender or mesh configurations, is needed.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the number of internet-connected devices for an average family of four is now at 10 per household. This means that the need for faster, more reliable wifi networks is greater than ever.

Currently, 46 million homes that have some kind of managed wifi and 16.8 million have multiple access points installed. However, this is forecast to increase 20-fold by 2023, representing one of the most rapid consumer technology roll-outs ever according to the report.

Rethink Technology Research believes that this will have a significant impact on the wifi retail market:

“The outcome will lead to a savage reinstatement of operator controlled WiFi, making huge dents in the WiFi retail market, and it will shift the broadband market control to a new class of “early adopter” specialist WiFi player.”

Preparing for the future

The impact of this increase in multi-AP WiFi is that WiFi will become more reliable as operators improve throughput to prepare for 802.11ax (the 6th generation of wifi that will offer greater bandwidth and speed.) The report predicts that WiFi will move from the 50mbps service in all parts of the home that exists today, to ten times that speed across the whole house by 2023.

Although some have predicted that the introduction of 5G could spell the end of WiFi, multi-AP WiFi, 802.11ax and cloud management software could enable WiFi to compete with the speed and reliability offered by 5G:

“There is something of a revolution raging quietly through the world’s broadband operators, with the potential to upgrade at least one billion homes with Home Gateway and cloud software which will turn operator-controlled wifi into a kind of Super WiFi.”