WiFi phones up 60%, WLAN kit up 20% in 2007

Worldwide sales of wireless LAN (WLAN) equipment, including independent and dependent access points and WLAN switches and controllers, hit €1.2 billion (US$1.9 billion) in 2007, up 20% over 2006. The growth was driven by the increased roll-out of enterprise WLANs and accelerating upgrades to 802.11n, according to Infonetics Research's Wireless LAN Equipment and Phones quarterly report.

Sales of enterprise single mode WiFi phones also jumped, up 61% in 2007, as adoption of wireless VoIP continued to penetrate the enterprise market, the report shows.

Cisco continues to dominate the worldwide WLAN equipment market, holding the top position in enterprise and service provider segments, with its WLAN revenue now topping € 126.51 million) (US$200 million) each quarter. Aruba and Motorola are still jostling for second slot in the enterprise segment, which continues to expand, while Trapeze Networks leads the rest of the bunch.

"Wireless LAN is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous technology and is commonly embedded into laptops, PDAs, phones, game consoles, and media adapters. Its widespread availability, affordability, flexibility and usage will make it an important technology even as other high speed wireless technologies like 3.5G and mobile WiMAX come to the fore," said Richard Webb, directing analyst for wireless and mobile devices at Infonetics Research.

He added, "WiFi-enabled smartphones, like the iPhone and RIM's WiFi Blackberry, will significantly increase WiFi hotspot traffic. In January 2008, AT&T, which offers the iPhone in the US, took over Starbucks' hotspots from T-Mobile, giving this segment an injection of fresh stimulus."

Worldwide wireless LAN equipment revenue was down 1% in 4Q07, following an all-time high in 3Q07. It is forecast to hit €2.15 billion (US$3.4 billion) in 2011.

WLAN switch and controller revenue was up 15% in 4Q07, driving dependent access point shipments. However, although the speed benefits of 802.11n products are clear, adoption will be gradual, as enterprises want to see a return on their 802.11g investments before upgrading.