Worldwide wireless local area network (WLAN) equipment revenue jumped an incredible 80% in 2000, breaking the $1 billion mark. According to IDC the market will be approaching $3.2 billion by the end of 2005.
“Wireless LANs are being driven by the endless need for mobile connectivity both in and out of the enterprise,” said Jason Smolek, research analyst for IDC’s Enterprise Networks program. “Access points and bridges in airports, hotels, and convention centers are sprouting up all over the world from Stockholm to Singapore to New York.”
Demand has been particularly strong in vertical industries such as education, retail, and healthcare. In the coming years, IDC expects increasing use of WLANs in the home and small/medium-sized business (SMB) segments coupled with the growth of broadband. Non-US markets will also represent a growing opportunity, especially Western Europe and Japan.
Proxim is currently best positioned in the WLAN market. The vendor accounted for more than 28% of 2000 shipments. Symbol and Lucent are also well positioned, with Cisco strong in infrastructure. 3Com has also emerged as a force in the home and SMB markets.
Despite the optimistic outlook for the overall market, IDC believes WLAN vendors will have to overcome several obstacles, including resolving standardization issues, educating their partners, improving security, and reducing prices so that WLANs are affordable for mainstream segments.
“In the end, the mobile revolution will be limited only by the extent to which individuals are willing to have access,” Smolek said. “How vendors deliver and package that access will be key to adoption everywhere.”