Sales of wireless local area networking (WLAN) equipment are growing across the world, according to Infonetics, a data communications research and consulting company.
The increase is driven by the growing popularity of wireless networks in the enterprise and the home, and the growth of public ‘WiFi hotspots’.
Infonetics says world sales of WiFi hardware in 2002 were $1.6 billion, but by 2006 they will have more than doubled to $3.6 billion. A significant new factor in
the already strong growth is the development of wireless switches, which carry out high speed switching of wireless and non-wireless traffic.
Cisco was already the runaway leader in wireless hardware – which includes routers, gateways, switches and bridges – with a 14% share, says Infonetics, but in late 2003 it bought the market number two Linksys, which had a 13% slice of the market.
In the latest quarter, consumers accounted for 42% of wireless hardware, but experts expect this to decrease as more businesses adopt wireless solutions, and as more WiFi hotspots are introduced.
A separate report from market research company Datamonitor also forecasts strong growth for WLANs in the enterprise. It says that by 2006 the global enterprise market will be worth $1.3 billion, about double the market in 2002.
Datamonitor says the market will grow because of the advantages of mobile working, the strong return on investment case, the reduced costs of the changes to office networks, reduced voice calls, and the availability of laptops with built-in wireless cards. New security standards will also help.