From access to inclusion – Wi-Fi and private mobile networks shaping the digital age

20 June marks World Wi-Fi Day, an initiative by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) aimed at recognising the significant role of Wi-Fi in our lives. The theme for 2024, ‘Connecting the Unconnected,’ underscores the ongoing challenge of providing internet access to all communities worldwide. Despite the proliferation of Wi-Fi, many areas, still lack reliable internet connectivity. This year’s theme calls for a concerted effort from governments, private sector entities, and non-profit organisations to deploy Wi-Fi solutions in underserved areas.

In our hyper-connected world, Wi-Fi has emerged as a cornerstone technology, transforming how we live, work, and play. From seamless internet access in our homes to enabling smart city use cases, Wi-Fi’s ubiquitous presence is undeniable. As we reflect on the evolution, benefits, and future potential of Wi-Fi, it is vital to understand how complementary technologies such as private mobile networks (PMNs) further enhance its capabilities, creating robust and efficient connectivity solutions across various industries and environments.

The evolution of Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi revolutionised internet access liberating us from the constraints of wired connections. Initially developed to provide wireless internet access within a limited range, Wi-Fi has come a long way since its inception in the 1990s and has evolved into a fundamental technology underpinning modern connectivity. Early Wi-Fi standards offered modest speeds and coverage, primarily suitable for home and small office environments.

However, with continuous advancements, Wi-Fi now supports high-speed internet access over larger areas, with the latest standards such as Wi-Fi 6, 6E and 7 offering improved performance, and reduced latency. Wi-Fi offers accessible, convenient, and cost-effective internet access for homes, workplaces, and public spaces, allowing multiple devices to connect wirelessly. It enhances productivity and user experience through easy access to digital services.

Private Mobile Networks: complement and enhance Wi-Fi connectivity

While Wi-Fi excels in providing broad and flexible connectivity, Private Mobile Networks (PMNs) provide the same basic capabilities and functionality, but with additional features offering dedicated, secure, and high-performance connectivity for mission-critical applications making these networks better suited for critical enterprise applications.

Private 4G / 5G networks are in high demand for industries like ports, manufacturing, healthcare, and utilities. These industries benefit from the enhanced security, reliability, and customisation that private networks offer, enabling them to support critical operations. These networks offer dedicated, isolated environments that protect sensitive data from cyber-attacks and ensure consistent, high-performance communication, even in challenging conditions.

The combination of Wi-Fi and PMNs creates a powerful, complementary connectivity solution that leverages the strengths of both technologies to serve diverse requirements.

Public Wi-Fi initiatives and future improvements

Today, many cities and communities are deploying free public Wi-Fi across dedicated areas. These initiatives remove barriers and provide affordable access to the Internet, attracting and retaining people, making cities more vibrant and liveable. True digital inclusion, however, extends beyond connectivity. It encompasses access to devices, digital literacy, and meaningful participation in the digital ecosystem. By incorporating data analytics, insights can be gained into usage patterns, demographics, and user behaviour. This informs resource allocation, supports local businesses, and enhances operational efficiency for improved public safety and the delivery of public services. Therefore, when planning such projects it is important that government and municipal authorities take a comprehensive approach, considering both connectivity and broader socio-economic impacts.

As a leader in shared communications infrastructure, BAI Communications has been instrumental in deploying advanced connectivity solutions in major cities worldwide, including London, UK, and New York City, USA. Additionally, BAI has partnered with Sunderland, UK, to develop the world’s most advanced smart city. BAI, now Boldyn Networks (our sister company) in the Northern Hemisphere, is continuing the delivery of these projects. Through our shared history and ongoing relationship with Boldyn, we are excited to shape the digital future of Australia.

With extensive experience in designing, building, owning, operating, and maintaining communications systems for smart cities, we excel in Wi-Fi, LoRaWAN, IoT (Internet of Things), and 3GPP standards for both public and private networks. Our team is uniquely positioned to offer these solutions across Australia, designing telecommunications infrastructure and information management layers that adapt to evolving conditions, thereby laying the groundwork for world-class smart cities that meet both current and future urban needs.

The future of Wi-Fi: connecting the unconnected

The importance of Wi-Fi will continue to grow, innovations such as Wi-Fi 7, will extend coverage and improve performance, making it feasible to reach remote and underserved areas. In conjunction with private mobile networks, these solutions can create a comprehensive and versatile connectivity landscape that meets the diverse needs of modern societies.

Australia has made significant strides in expanding Wi-Fi access, from urban areas to rural and remote regions, ensuring that more citizens can enjoy the benefits of internet connectivity. However, there is significant potential to make even greater progress in connecting the unconnected.

Today, is a reminder of the work still needed to ensure that everyone, regardless of location, can benefit from the opportunities that come with secure and reliable internet access. By continuing to innovate and collaborate, we can leverage these technologies to close the digital divide, fostering inclusion, productivity, and empowerment for everyone.

Find out more about our Wi-Fi solution.