The mobile Wi-Fi hotspot market is expected to become a multi-billion USD opportunity within the next few years. Wi-Fi connectivity is likely to become a huge opportunity for communications service providers. Several industry sources predicted that Wi-Fi enabled wireless devices like phone, computer, and consumer electronics may cross one billion by 2012. In addition to retail consumers, the business enterprises are likely to become major contributor for the growth of mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.
The mobile Wi-Fi hotspot becomes widely acceptable in the market once Novatel Wireless Inc. launched its legendary MiFi line of Intelligent Mobile Hotspots in December 2008. MiFi is an ultra-portable wireless device, creating an environment of high-speed internet connectivity that can be easily shared by multiple users using up to five Wi-Fi devices. From October 28, 2010, Verizon Wireless (VZ - Analyst Report) started selling Apple Inc’s (AAPL - Analyst Report) 3G iPad along with MiFi wireless hotspot. From November 21, 2010, AT&T (T - Analyst Report) started selling MiFi preloaded with MiFi OS widgets and application support. MiFi is now available with all the three major telecom carriers in the U.S., viz., Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint Nextel Corp. (S - Analyst Report). Novatel has also launched its first 4G MiFi with Verizon.
In April 2010, the three largest cable operators in the U.S., e.g., Comcast Corp. (CMCSA - Analyst Report), Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC - Analyst Report), and Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC - Analyst Report) entered into an agreement for free Wi-Fi platform sharing. The cable modem subscribes of these three MSOs at present have unlimited access to a fast and free wireless Internet connection at several locations in the New York City region. The roaming Wi-Fi arrangement strengthens a bunch of WiFi-related activities that are already underway.