The top four Wi-Fi and Internet predictions for 2023
David Henry, President and GM of Connected Home Products at NETGEAR.
The pandemic has irreversibly accelerated the world’s reliance on Wi-Fi. From the global shift to remote and hybrid ways of working to unprecedented increases in gaming, streaming and AR/VR adoption, Wi-Fi has been at the center of it all and isn’t going away. Without reliable smart home connectivity, our personal and professional lives can be made increasingly difficult, making the need for powerful networking equipment more critical than ever.
In this article, we describe the impact and possibilities of new developments in Wi-Fi networks and Internet usage in the new year, along with a warning about what to watch out for when defending against attacks on a connected home network.
1. Seventh generation Wi-Fi becomes standard.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are delivering faster Internet speeds than ever before. AT&T Fiber already provides 5 Gbps, and Comcast is testing DOCSIS 4.0, leading to a future where 10 Gbps speeds will be commonplace. To experience the true benefits of these advances, networking equipment and Wi-Fi must be developed.
The seventh generation Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 7) connectivity will be standard with 320 MHz channel bandwidths and will enable extremely high-speed Wi-Fi, including 5 Gbps, to phones at more than double the speeds they are capable of in day. Wi-Fi 7 will also solve latency issues, forever changing the gaming and streaming experiences for smart environments everywhere.
Core to Wi-Fi 7’s impact will be to advance the capabilities and possibilities of video streaming, both for personal and professional use. As the influx of video streaming demands continues to increase, so does the need for better bandwidth, especially for live-streamed events, which require strong, consistent Wi-Fi performance.
As Wi-Fi 7 will have five times the capacity to handle more devices and improve AR/VR latency performance by 15 times, this further points to connectivity becoming the new standard.
In the coming year, we will see more entertainment and cultural events live-streamed, and viewers will need to upgrade network services and equipment, often beyond the standard modems and routers provided by ISPs, to enjoy it. We will also see client devices, starting with smartphones in 2023, adopt the new Wi-Fi 7 standard at record speeds to take advantage of these performance benefits.
2. 5G will help close the digital divide.
The “digital divide” continues to be a modern societal problem fueled by a lack of affordable and reliable connectivity. Despite recent advances, regions around the country are still left behind due to a lack of reliable internet access. There are about 19 million Americans – 6% of the population – who still lack access to fixed broadband services with threshold speeds of just 25 Mbps.
The continued, widespread rollout of 5G will pave the way for a new generation of internet access, especially for rural communities that are unfortunately still on the wrong side of the digital divide. 5G is already available in 58 countries, and we expect that number to increase dramatically over the next two years, eventually leading to more than three billion subscribers by 2026. Robust fixed and mobile network devices will help level the playing field for the next generation of workers and learners, and carriers will adapt their data plans to facilitate.
3. Online gaming will be the largest and fastest growing form of entertainment.
The gaming industry’s growth has been accelerated by the unprecedented engagement of younger teenage gamers, who spend approximately 40% more time in video game environments than with any other form of media, according to a recent report from Bain & Company. The same report estimates that global video game revenue could increase by another 50% over the next five years.
In a sport where milliseconds count, network equipment will be as important to the game as the speed of the gaming rig. Wi-Fi 7 will be critical for speed and near-zero latency, and game developers will break new barriers with immersive experiences.
4. As smart homes become more innovative, so will efforts to exploit them.
Around one-third of US consumers have a smart gadget at home, and we’ll see continued use of smart devices in 2023. Homeowners are choosing smart home options like refrigerators, doorbells and light bulbs to improve their lives. Most new technology devices on the holiday shopping market this year have some form of Internet connectivity. The average home will soon have an average of 20 connected devices at any given time.
The problem is that smart home technology, like all technology, can be hacked. Any smart, connected device is at risk of exploitation thanks to sophisticated cybercriminals who often prioritize home networks over business or corporate networks with superior security infrastructure.
In response, there will be a growing need for network-based approaches to security in 2023. This means expanding the security options built into the Wi-Fi router so that every device in the home is protected, even for those who only use it temporarily.
The world’s dependence on strong Wi-Fi and internet connectivity remains one of the most critical elements of everyday life. Without it, seemingly every industry is negatively impacted, making access to reliable Wi-Fi an absolute necessity.
In 2023, we expect this trend to accelerate, mainly thanks to advances in Wi-Fi 7, 5G, online gaming and smart home security. I believe that in 2023, Wi-Fi will be synonymous with innovation, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
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