The Death of Wi-Fi: It's Coming Sooner Than You Think

Patrick Antinozzi

It may sound crazy but, soon enough, you'll be waving goodbye to your old pal Wi-Fi. Let's look at 4 reasons why the death of Wi-Fi is imminent.

Data speeds are rising at an incredible rate

The wireless industry is more competitive than ever, which means wireless carriers are constantly looking for new ways to rise above their competition. As carriers find more affordable ways to improve their technology, mobile internet speeds increase. In fact, mobile internet speeds are increasing at a faster rate than wired internet speeds.

In Canada, the average wired internet download speed is 16.6 Mbps. Care to guess what the average speed is for LTE wireless?

average lte download speed in canada

As shown in the graph above, the average speed of LTE wireless in Canada is around 13Mbps, with Bell being the fastest at 15Mbps. This is just 3.6Mbps behind the speeds of wired internet in the country.

This is not exclusive to Canada either, with many countries around the world reporting similar figures. Spain holds the honor of having the fastest LTE networks in the world, with an average of 18Mbps. South Korea has the best overall coverage, with 95% of your time there being spent on LTE.

Wi-Fi technology is simply not keeping up

With the world aggressively shifting to mobile, Wi-Fi technology advancement has taken a back seat.

average lte speeds vs average wifi speeds globally

As illustrated  above, the global average download speed of Wi-Fi is less than half of LTE's average. Of course, it's important to keep in mind that this is a global average, which includes developing countries that have little access to the internet. Which brings us to our next point...

Mobile internet is transforming developing countries

These developing countries are often the heaviest users of mobile internet, as many have never had access to the internet before and are excited by the seemingly limitless opportunities this new technology brings them.

People in rich countries use the mobile Internet more for tasks rich people can do: shop (41 percent), bank (51 percent), and (increasingly) control gadgets in our homes. In poor nations, 33 percent shop via mobile and 40 percent bank via mobile. Home automation is relatively unknown in developing countries; instead, the mobile Internet focus is more on communication, research (such as on foodstuff prices, weather, and traffic), and education.

- InfoWorld

This means that developing countries are actually the fastest growing market for wireless carriers, and their biggest opportunity for rapid expansion.

Google (who is still on pace to own the world within the next 10 years) realizes this, and is working on a network of balloons that will bring internet access to the farthest reaches of the planet.

The "mobile-first" trend in the Internet of Things is starting

As mobile internet becomes faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi, more and more companies are making the switch.

"We've started to see an interesting trend where customers started off with Wi-Fi-only devices and, for a variety of reasons, they're moving toward cellular-only"

- Mike Troiano, Vice President of AT&T's Industrial IoT organization

In that same article, Mike gives two examples of this new trend. In the first, AT&T announced a deal earlier this year with a company that builds medical carts for hospitals. The idea was that a doctor or nurse can go to the cart to get medication and the cart automatically tracks inventory levels, security clearances and more. But this particular vendor was getting frustrated with the hospital Wi-Fi and the cabinets losing connectivity as they were wheeled around the hospital. The company made a decision to put cellular in each cart so that it could better control the experience.

In the second example, one of AT&T's customers builds industrial-sized microwave ovens for fast-food restaurants. In the old days, when they wanted to update the menus for the ovens, they did it via Wi-Fi, or someone would visit each store and manually upgrade the firmware from a USB drive. That company is now putting cellular into the ovens so when they get shipped to the restaurants, nobody in the store has to touch them. The manufacturer can update it in a matter of minutes rather than days or weeks.

What does this all mean?

With more of our personal devices requiring access to the internet at all times, and the connected home inching closer to reality, our insatiable hunger for mobile internet will only grow. Wireless carriers will continue to compete for your every dollar, driving forward mobile internet speeds at an incredible rate, while Wi-Fi quickly becomes a relic of the past.

(Header image via TDCurran, all graphs via OpenSignal)

About the Author

Patrick Antinozzi

Patrick is our Content Specialist / Brand Ambassador / Internet Geek. He's got his finger on the pulse of business and retail trends, and loves writing in various corners of the internet. When he's not doing that, you'll find him traveling the world, playing hockey, or ranting about the Montreal Canadiens.

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