Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Q&A

What’s the Big Deal About Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is a hot topic these days, which is somewhat ironic. For years, we’ve been trumpeting how cellular can keep us connected everywhere. Now, companies ranging from Google to Comcast want to build wireless services that rely partially on technologies that are tethered to one spot. 

This could be a boon for companies like Cisco Systems or Hewlett-Packard, which said Monday it was buying Wi-Fi equipment maker Aruba Networks for $2.7 billion.

Also in the mix: Ruckus Wireless, which sells Wi-Fi equipment to cable operators and wireless carriers and also powers public Wi-Fi networks in cities across the U.S., including in San Francisco and San Jose. About half of its customers are outside the U.S., in South Africa, India, China and elsewhere.

The company was founded in 2004 during a time when public Wi-Fi was a backwater, as many city-wide Wi-Fi projects across the U.S. had failed. Growth remains patchy across the industry: Cisco, for instance, reported a couple of weak quarters in this part of its business last year. Ruckus, meanwhile, has reported 20 percent-plus revenue growth in the past two years but profits remain slim. It has a market capitalization of about $1 billion.

The Information recently spoke with Ruckus’s CEO, Selina Lo, a Hong Kong-born entrepreneur who spent several years at H-P in the 1980s. After co-founding and working at Ethernet companies, she hooked up with two Wi-Fi tech experts through Sequoia Capital to launch and lead Ruckus.

The 55-year-old Ms. Lo discussed Wi-Fi’s recent resurgence in the news, what she calls the upcoming “revenge” of cable companies like Comcast against wireless carriers, and why companies like Ruckus have struggled in the public markets of late.

No subscription? You're missing out.

Join the high-powered community of tech and business leaders who rely on The Information's original news and in-depth reporting.

There’s a sentiment that the industry is being commoditized, Aruba and Ruckus are making too much gross margins. Wild statements like that. It is certainly consolidating. Jupiter Networks got out of the enterprise Wi-Fi business. Motorola [enterprise unit] was bought by Zebra. H-P is losing market share and Meru [Networks] is on life support. Cisco lost some market share when it integrated Meraki [a company Cisco acquired] with its core Wi-Fi business. There was initially some cannibalization, and since Cisco is such a bellwether, with 50 percent of the market, it impacts the overall market.

Brough Turner commented on this article.
Read comments from top tech and industry leaders
Joe Lonsdale
Joe Lonsdale
Founding Partner, Eight
Chamath Palihapitiya
Chamath Palihapitiya
Founder & Managing Partner, SocialCapital
Tina Sharkey
Tina Sharkey
CEO, Brandless
Jonah Peretti
Jonah Peretti
CEO, Buzzfeed
Adam D'Angelo
Adam D'Angelo
CEO, Quora
Brit Morin
Brit Morin
Founder & CEO, Brit + CO
Dustin Moskovitz
Dustin Moskovitz
Co-Founder, Asana
Christina Miller
Christina Miller
President & General Manager, Turner
Max Levchin
Max Levchin
CEO, Affirm
Adam Mosseri
Adam Mosseri
Director of Product, Facebook
Alex Mather
Alex Mather
The Athletic
Martha Josephson
Martha Josephson
Partner, Egon Zehnder
James Murdoch
James Murdoch
Co-Chief Operating Officer, 21st Century Fox
Andrew Kortina
Andrew Kortina
Founder, Venmo
Ben Chestnut
Ben Chestnut
Co-Founder & CEO, Mailchimp
Ruchi Sanghvi
Ruchi Sanghvi
VP Operations, Dropbox
Login or Subscribe to follow the discussions happening here and real-time in our   Slack Community.
There’s a survey that says Americans would rather give up coffee than Wi-Fi.