My article 5 Reasons Wi-Fi Will Take a Back Seat for the Smart Grid stirred up a lot of debate in wireless circles — while some agreed with it and some pointed out reasons they felt I’d overlooked, others flat-out disagreed with what I wrote. Among them was the Wi-Fi Alliance, the trade group whose white paper I cited in the story. To that end, Greg Ennis, Wi-Fi Alliance’s technical director, presented me with the group’s own list of reasons why, as he put it, “Wi-Fi will succeed for smart grid deployments.” They are:
1. Huge installed base: An estimated 2 billion Wi-Fi chipsets have shipped as of this year. One of every 10 people in the world uses Wi-Fi for work and leisure.
2. Economies of scale: Like many semiconductor-based technologies, the growth in the market for Wi-Fi chipsets has driven increasing volumes and generated lower prices. This year more than 500 million Wi-Fi chipsets will ship and one billion units are expected to ship in 2011.
3. Carriers already deploy it: Worldwide, all major mobile carriers offer WiFi-enabled handsets. Wi-Fi provides the multimedia-rich experience that subscribers want while conserving expensive spectrum. An estimated 80 million WiFi-enabled handsets shipped in 2008; that number is expected to grow to 300 million in 2011.
4. Residential customers love and trust it, and want their smart energy applications to use it: Consumers enjoy the freedom and convenience of Wi-Fi in an impressive array of devices ranging from computers to mobile handsets and a growing range of consumer electronics.
5. Established certification ecosystem and mature industry: The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED designation has been awarded to more than 6,000 devices. The program is recognized as a designator of quality by consumers and across the technology industry. Testing is conducted in 13 authorized test labs around the world.
6. Innovation in low-power silicon: Several new low-power Wi-Fi chipsets are capable of working in very low-power systems. When integrated into a device that optimizes use of the Wi-Fi radio, these chipsets support battery life of up to 10 years in end points such as utility meters.
7. Innovation in distance networking: Existing city-wide Wi-Fi networks include systems that provide access covering up to 500 meters from the AP, interconnected by point-to-point links based on 802.11 technology and using proprietary mesh protocols. Wi-Fi can be used for both neighborhood network access and as part of a wide area network (WAN) backhaul system.