In the wake of the transformative pandemic that forever altered our relationship with technology, the imperative need for reliable connectivity has become more evident than ever. In 2022 alone, U.S. wireless carriers supported an astounding 73 trillion MB of traffic, marking a 38% increase from the previous year. This surge underscores the pivotal role connectivity plays in our daily lives, extending beyond mere social interactions to encompass critical aspects like education, work productivity, and the groundwork for future technological solutions.

Bridging the Connectivity Divide

As we step into 2024, the focus sharpens on addressing the ever-growing demand for high broadband speeds. Meeting this need for speed is no longer a luxury but a necessity, given the diverse ways in which customers utilize their devices – be it for work, school, telehealth, or personal hotspots. The key to fulfilling this demand lies in the deployment of the mid-band spectrum, often hailed as the “sweet spot” of 5G due to its ability to deliver fast speeds with broad coverage.

The prediction for 2024 is that wireless carriers will intensify their efforts in expanding mid-band 5G networks, promising a significantly enhanced mobile experience. This expansion is not only poised to benefit individual users but also holds the promise of improving home internet speeds through fixed wireless solutions – a technology that employs wireless connectivity to deliver broadband to homes and businesses.

Intermax has been dedicated to providing access to rural communities since 2001 and we understand that access to high-speed internet is a daily necessity for families.

Blurring Boundaries: The Rise of Fixed Wireless and Cable Providers

A fascinating development in the connectivity landscape is the increasing trend of consumers turning to their wireless carriers for home internet. Some cite a superior and faster experience, while others appreciate the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of a consolidated bill. Conversely, there is a noticeable uptick in consumers seeking wireless services from their cable providers, with similar motivations driving the switch.

This shifting dynamic is blurring the lines between what defines a “mobile internet company” and a “fixed internet company.” The silver lining for consumers lies in the prospect of increased choices and varied price points as companies vie to differentiate themselves and offer unique experiences.

The Government’s Role in Shaping Connectivity

In 2024, the spotlight is firmly fixed on the role of government in cultivating a healthy and productive wireless industry that not only serves Americans but also positions the U.S. as a global technology leader. Decisions regarding spectrum allocation and funding by federal and state officials are expected to wield tangible impacts on the daily connectivity of millions.

One noteworthy initiative is the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, which allocates funding to states for expanding fixed internet access. The pivotal aspect here is the expectation that states will allocate a portion of this funding to fixed wireless solutions, offering faster connectivity without the time and expense associated with laying fiber.

Additionally, the U.S. spectrum policy is set to take center stage in 2024. The emphasis is on getting the spectrum policy right, as spectrum serves as the backbone of wireless connectivity and is crucial for maintaining national competitiveness. The release of more mid-band spectrum is identified as imperative, especially for delivering connectivity to the hard-to-reach areas of rural America.

Grant funding has been a huge resource for expanding internet services to rural communities at Intermax. We know that while North Idaho has seen a great amount of growth, it is still severely underserved for internet access. If you live in a rural area and have trouble with the internet, contact us to see if we can assist. We prioritize helping underserved communities.

Beyond the realm of government policy and infrastructure, the world of Wi-Fi is set to witness exciting developments in 2024. A comprehensive list of predictions includes:

  1. Wi-Fi 6/6E Adoption: With ISPs delivering faster internet speeds, the adoption of Wi-Fi 6/6E is expected to surge, driven by its ability to access additional spectrum in the 6GHz band.
  2. Wi-Fi 7 for Gaming: The growth of the gaming industry is set to propel the need for Wi-Fi 7 capabilities, ensuring speed and near-zero latency for immersive gaming experiences.
  3. OpenRoaming Expansion: The deployment of Passpoint and OpenRoaming is on the rise, extending beyond Wi-Fi to integrate with private 5G and IoT in 2024.
  4. Network as a Service (NaaS) Rise: NaaS is gaining prominence, with enterprises shifting toward subscription-based models for network infrastructure, driven by innovations, skilled labor shortages, and increased security concerns.
  5. AI/ML Integration: The role of AI and ML in enhancing network management, troubleshooting, and anticipating issues is expected to explode, contributing to higher productivity and customer satisfaction.
  6. Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC): AFC is anticipated to play a crucial role, especially in deploying low-power and very low-power devices in the 6GHz spectrum for various applications.
  7. New IoT Technologies: The advent of Matter, an industry-unifying standard, promises to bridge the gap between smart home devices manufactured by different companies, offering a seamless IoT experience.
  8. TIP OpenWiFi Challenges: Pilot projects and trials for TIP OpenWiFi may face challenges in developing countries, with uncertainties surrounding community-driven initiatives competing against established vendors.
  9. Metaverse Economy: The metaverse is poised to become a significant economic force, with major brands making substantial investments. Indoor broadband networks must adapt to cater to the evolving requirements of augmented and virtual reality experiences.
  10. Wi-Fi and 5G/6G Convergence: Convergence efforts are progressing to enable access to private or public 5G services over Wi-Fi. Large enterprises are already deploying private 5G, seeking synergy with Wi-Fi for various use cases.

The technological landscape of 2024 promises a dynamic interplay between government policies shaping connectivity infrastructure and the rapid evolution of Wi-Fi technologies.

As we navigate through the year, the fusion of these elements will likely pave the way for a more connected, efficient, and immersive digital future. Stay tuned as we witness these predictions unfold and contribute to the ever-evolving tapestry of the tech world.

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