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The Wireless ISP Industry & Cellular Wi-Fi Offloading: Analysis and Forecast
Inside Digital Media, Inc, August 2011, Pages: 40
This little-understood industry is at the threshold of moving into urban markets and transforming Internet access much like CATV changed television thirty years ago. Additionally, smartphones and tablet computers offer gigantic opportunities for Wireless ISPs to operate large area Wi-Fi networks enabling users to avoid the bandwidth limits and congestion of cellular systems.
First, the domestic CATV-Telco duopoly of landline Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may attempt to choke Internet growth in order to protect Pay TV subscriptions. Research at Cisco Systems concludes over half of consumer Internet traffic will be video next year and grow 17-fold by 2015. As landline ISPs impose bandwidth metering and/or other pricing schemes to retard Internet growth, they'll create opportunities for fixed-station Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) to compete, especially among commercial accounts. A projection of the applicable forecast parameters and sectors is provided below.
Second, together with the smartphone, the advent of the tablet computer implies the Wireless Internet has come-of-age. A smartphone generates 24 times more data on a wireless network than a standard feature phone, whereas a tablet generates 122 times more data than a basic feature phone. Although cellular carriers are upgrading to 4G systems, such networks only increase capacity by four-fold whereas Cisco estimates global mobile data will increase 26-fold by 2015. As a result both Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility have already imposed metered pricing on cellular data plans. Thus, users will increasingly look for Wi-Fi hot spots as a means of avoiding such fees as well as the congested traffic they imply on cellular systems. Gradually some individual Wi-Fi hot spots will evolve into large area Wi-Fi Oases enabling users to stay wirelessly connected to the Internet in zones where pedestrian traffic tends to dwell or loiter.
Report Objectives: There are six objectives.
First, is to provide a quantitative five-year projection of subscribers and revenues for the traditional Wireless ISP industry. Second, is to quantify the business opportunities for WISPs among commercial and residential users in both rural and city markets. Third, is to analyze the industry's characteristics. Fourth, is to identify twelve attractive operating features that justify consideration of the industry by financiers and bankers. Fifth, is to forecast the number of users and revenues associated with Wi-Fi cellular offload networks. Sixth, is to anticipate the unanticipated by analyzing speculative developments ranging from Apple's entry into the market, to changes in regulatory policy.
Highlights: Among the major conclusions are:
- Fixed-station Wireless Internet subscribers will increase from about two million in 2010 to over five million by 2015.
- Revenues for fixed-station WISPs will grow even more quickly owing to a business mix-shift toward commercial accounts, among other factors.
- Landline ISPs will impose metered rates, and/or other pricing schemes, in an attempt to retard Internet use thereby creating opportunities for WISPs to invade city markets.
- Network infrastructure equipment is at the threshold of major cost/performance improvements as new suppliers enter the market with designs utilizing commercially available – instead of custom - semiconductor chips.
- Attractive industry characteristics include, recurring revenues, low subscriber churn, high profit margins, latent demand, organic growth, and comparatively modest capital needs, among six others.
- Convenient user access to the Wireless Internet via high-speed unlicensed networks is a non-negotiable imperative to the future growth of Apple and similar companies.
- Wi-Fi and TV Band White Space technology will enable unlicensed networks to accommodate the cellular offload imperative.
- Cellular offload “collected and imputed” revenues will rise to over $1 billon by 2015. “Imputed” revenues are attributable to Wi-Fi zones operated by CATV and similar companies as a “free” amenity to retain landline and Pay TV subscribers.
- The typical WISP fails to appreciate cellular offloading is likely to attract gigantic new competitors who could swamp incumbents unless they are able to raise growth capital in order to keep pace.
Who Should Buy:
- Wireless ISPs seeking an independent assessment of the industry's opportunities and challenges.
- Traditional WISP equipment providers looking for a forecast of the industry's growth.
- Wi-Fi equipment makers wanting to quantify the demand for unlicensed networks as a means of offloading Internet traffic from congested cellular systems.
- Smartphone makers seeking an understanding of how consumers will connect to the Wireless Internet in the future.
- Tablet computer suppliers concerned to know how users will get to the Wireless Internet in the future.
- Venture capitalists who want to “get in on the ground floor.”
- Investment bankers who could benefit from learning about new business opportunities before their competitors.
- Network equipment manufactures looking for new markets.
- Cable TV executives wanting to anticipate how competitors will respond to anticipated business strategies.
- Telephone companies wanting to learn about potential vulnerabilities to competitors who were previously insignificant.
- TV Band White Space equipment m akers desiring to learn of the market opportunity among traditional WISPs and cellular offloading unlicensed networks.
- TV Band White Space administrators wanting to know about cellular offloading and fixed-station wireless business opportunities.
- Institutional investors seeking information on an obscure but promising
- Present Status
Two Defining Characteristics
- Unlicensed Bands
- Licensed & Registered Bands
- White Space
- Competitive Improvement
- Mobile Device Proliferation
- Declining Equipment Costs
Favorable Business Characteristics
- Recurring Revenues
- Low Subscriber Churn
- High Profit Margins
- Latent Demand
- Organic Growth
- Favorable Competitive Environment
- Comparatively Modest Capital Requirements
- Capital Needs Linked to Subscriber Growth
- Incremental Revenue Sources
- Urban Development Threshold
- First Mover Advantage
- Constructive Regulatory Environment
Typical Network Provider
- Fixed-Station Wireless Internet
- Cellular Offload
- Surprising New Entrants
- Regulatory Shift
Table 1 - ISM Band in the United States
Table 2 - Ubiquiti Networks Corporate Growth
Table 3 - Forecast: Fixed Station WISP Services 2010 - 2015
Table 4 - Forecast: Growth Rates Fixed Station WISP 2010 - 2015
Table 5 - Domestic Cellular Offload Wi-Fi Forecast 2010 - 2015
Figure 1 - WISP Access Point - Tyler, Texas
Figure 2 - Subscriber Antenna/Transceiver
Figure 3 - Wireless Internet Service Provider Assoc. Members
Figure 4 - Internet Access Pricing in Boston
Figure 5 - Shannon's Law: C = BW x log (1 + SNR)
Figure 6 - Point-to-Multipoint Tower
Figure 7 - Omni-Directional Field
Figure 8 - Global Internet Traffic Forecast
Figure 9 - Wi-Fi Offload Growth Forecast
Figure 10 - Towerstream Large-Area Wi-Fi Hotspot
Figure 11 - Sectorized Antenna Beams
Figure 12 - Towerstream Service Profile
Figure 13 - Maximum Wireless LAN Data Rates
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