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Today there are more than 500 million Internet connected devices in use. They outnumber the total U.S. population and some experts are predicting that the number of connected devices will exceed 50 billion by 2020.
Powering those devices not only requires plenty of electricity, but robust and plentiful Internet connections that satisfy our appetite for constant connectivity. Whether at home, on a street corner, riding public transportation, or sitting in a coffee shop, Americans are demanding readily available, high-speed Internet connections.
The cable broadband industry is tackling this challenge through a “Cable WiFi” consortium offering access to over 200,000 Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide. These outside-the-home locations provide consumers with access to high-speed connections on smartphones, tablets, and laptops in thousands of locations. But these Wi-Fi networks are under incredible pressure. With so many devices all running data-heavy applications, are we asking too much of these public hotspots?
In order to keep place with demand, Wi-Fi technology has to remain in a constant state of growth and evolution. Unless Wi-Fi networks gain access to more unlicensed spectrum, particularly in the 5 GHz band, growth could be stunted. Fortunately, a recent study from CableLabs and The University of Colorado issued a report showing that the very spectrum required can be used for Wi-Fi safely and without any harmful interference. This report is another step towards a future of fast, ubiquitous Wi-Fi.
Being connected to reliable Internet on the go has become not only a convenience but a necessity. Wi-Fi networks carry more Internet traffic to consumer devices than wireless and wired connections combined. And the Internet of Things, or the connection of all devices and gadgets to the Internet, is already changing our lives, making Wi-Fi that much more important. By firing up 200,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, cable broadband providers are enabling the Internet to be the “anytime anywhere” experience that consumers crave. And with the release of more usable spectrum, widespread access to gigabit Wi-Fi can become a reality.
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