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The global WLAN market has grown tremendously in recent years. Wi-Fi in particular has been successful because of its ease of deployment in both consumer and enterprise environments. In the latest update to ABI Research’s Wi-Fi Equipment Market Data, global access point shipments are forecast to exceed 70 million by 2010, of which an overwhelming 90% will be generated by the small office/home office (SOHO) and consumer markets.

“Much of the growth seen in 2008, particularly on the enterprise side, is attributed to the explosive uptake of 802.11n products. 802.11n is expected to overtake shipments of 802.11a/g by 2012, with more than 60% market share,” said Serene Fong of ABI.

For now, the high-end WLAN equipment market is dominated by vertical segments such as higher education and healthcare. While 802.11a/g is obviously the most favored technology at the moment with about 84% market share, enterprises have been switching to the draft 2.0 802.11n technology for greater speed. This requirement for speed has inadvertently created more room for innovation in the enterprise market.

Consumer electronics are also being transformed by networking technology. Demand for connectivity between mainstream electronic devices in the home including TVs, gaming consoles and laptops drives the need for Wi-Fi networking. And 802.11g products are still ahead of the game here, accounting for more than eight in ten SOHO/ consumer access point shipments. However, ”g” will soon be supplanted by the much faster 802.11n, especially when economies of scale push prices down to more affordable general consumer levels.

“802.11n will develop so rapidly that by the end of 2009, its shipments will almost be on par with that of 802.11g. And by 2010, 802.11n revenue will be twice that of 802.11g,” Ms. Fong cautions.

Tags: Wi-Fi, 802.11

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