The growth in public Wi-Fi installations by cable companies will far outstrip the deployment of small cells by telcos, according to Mobile Research, an analysis firm that specializes in the mobile market.
Joe Madden, principal analyst at Mobile Experts, said, "Even if we exclude homespot deployments, the number of Wi-Fi access points will reach the level of millions for cable operators and public venues during 2015, outstripping the capacity of new LTE base stations. Several large mobile operators have made a gigantic blunder, by ignoring the opportunity to deploy Wi-Fi or utilize Hotspot 2.0 –so cable operators and other service providers are jumping on the opportunity. Homespots add another dimension, with massive crowdsourcing of capacity. The total Wi-Fi capacity deployed by service providers worldwide could match the 'data tsunami' in terms of raw capacity over the next five years, although of course there are obvious limitations in mobility and QoS."
The company has compiled the data that leads to the conclusion that Wi-Fi will surpass small cells in the next five years in a report it has just published called Service Provider and Public Venue Wi-Fi.
Mobile Experts says Hotspot 2.0 is going to be a game changer. "The definition of a service provider is changing with Hotspot 2.0," said Madden. "A stadium or a hotel can use Hotspot 2.0 roaming agreements to operate as a wireless service provider, and products are emerging which are attractive, neutral options for venues to invest in wireless. Also, with Wi-Fi calling, cheap, unlicensed services will cover the needs of many in-building users. Convergence of licensed and unlicensed services will happen, but we're changing our view of the market timing and the implications for specific companies."