802.11ac Wi-Fi driving WLAN market growth, study says

The wireless local area network (WLAN) market experienced a year-over-year expansion of 10 percent during the recently ended third quarter, with 802.11ac Wi-Fi shipments for the enterprise playing a big factor, according to a fresh study from Dell'Oro Group.

802.11ac accounted for 6 percent of enterprise access point market units, said Chris DePuy, the firm's vice president of wireless LAN research. "What is interesting about 802.11ac equipment that shipped last quarter was that it was all based on 'Wave 1' radios.  We expect even greater interest to develop for 802.11ac once 'Wave 2' radios emerge in the next year or two," DePuy said.

Wave 2 of the 802.11ac standard, which uses the 5 GHz band, supports both contiguous 160 MHz and noncontiguous 80+80 MHz bandwidths. This phase also offers multi-user MIMO and transmit beam-forming. Wave 2 capabilities are expected to be particularly useful in enterprises and public locations such as stadiums and concert venues, where bandwidth is shared across many mobile devices simultaneously.

Ubiquiti Networks joined Cisco Systems and Ruckus Wireless in gaining the most dollar share compared to the prior quarter in the combined enterprise and outdoor segment. During the third quarter, the top three vendors in the combined enterprise-class and outdoor mesh nodes category were Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Ruckus, Dell'Oro said.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi in general continues expanding its reach beyond traditional computing uses. According to a new report from ABI Research, Wi-Fi controls the lion's share of the smart thermostat market and will continue as the popular choice among device manufacturers, with shipments forecast to exceed 3 million units in 2018.

ABI said ZigBee-enabled smart thermostats will witness growing market share with over 2 million units shipped annually in 2018. The total global smart thermostats market is expected to grow from 1.3 million in 2013 to 8 million unit shipments in 2018 for a compound annual growth rate of 43 percent.

Though North America is currently the most lucrative market for smart thermostats, smart thermostat shipments to Europe will exceed North American shipments in 2017 to become the biggest market worldwide over the forecast period, ABI said.

For more:
- see this Dell'Oro release
- see this ABI release

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