Global WLAN Market Growing Thanks to Rapid 802.11ac Adoption

Enterprise wireless is now growing faster than consumer.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Sep 26, 2016
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The market for wireless local area network (WLAN) equipment is growing, both for enterprises and consumers.

Overall, across both consumer and enterprise, analyst firm IDC reports that there was 6.7 percent revenue growth year-over-year in the second quarter of 2016. Enterprise growth is stronger than consumer, with IDC reporting 9.4 percent revenue growth for the strongest gain in two years.

Consumer WLAN spending had its best quarter since 2014, with revenue growing 3.1 percent over the second quarter of 2015.

A large part of the 2016 WLAN growth for both enterprise and consumer market is the continued adoption of high-speed 802.11ac wireless. For enterprise deployments, 802.11ac in the second quarter of 2016 account for 77.4 percent of access point revenues and 59.9 percent of shipments.

On the consumers side, 802.11ac-based wireless access points accounted for 51.3 percent of revenue and 22.6 percent of shipments. According to IDC, adoption of 802.11ac is faster than it was for previous wireless standards, including 802.11n.

"Recognizing the critical role that WLAN plays in IT's mobility and digital initiatives, enterprises are committing to WLAN upgrades and refreshes," Nolan Greene, senior research analyst, Network Infrastructure at IDC, said in a statement. "Even as global economic indicators are mixed, IDC believes that enterprises will continue to invest in robust WLAN infrastructure in order to compete effectively in the digital economy."

Looking forward research firm Technavio has forecast that the global WLAN market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.16 percent from 2016 through 2020.

"The emergence of next-generation connected devices, along with the rise in the use of cloud services, will accelerate the deployment of WLAN devices," Navin Rajendra, lead analyst at Technavio for research on computing devices, said in a statement.

In terms of vendors, IDC has Cisco in the top spot in terms of market share at 43.7 percent which is down from the 45.2 percent market share the company held in the second quarter of 2015.


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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