Growing WLAN demand sets stage for 802.11ac shipments

The market for wireless LAN equipment passed the $1 billion milestone for the first time ever during the third quarter of 2012, according to market research firm Infonetics. The firm also noted that shipments of 802.11ac Wi-Fi products will increase in popularity in 2013.

"Coming on the heels of a 16 percent jump the previous quarter, WLAN equipment revenue grew another 6% quarter-over-quarter, passing the $1-billion mark for the first time," said Matthias Machowinski, Infonetics directing analyst for enterprise networks and video. "The usual demand drivers--wireless devices, BYOD [bring your own device], mobility--were in play, but there was also an acceleration of carrier WiFi deployments, with sales of outdoor access points doubling over the past year."

Infonetics said global demand for WLAN gear is well balanced, with North America; Asia-Pacific; and Europe, the Middle East and Africa seeing about 20 percent year-over-year revenue growth.

The firm noted that the manufacturers are ramping up to offer 802.11ac-based Wi-Fi products next year. Some early products have shipped, but many more vendors are expected to offer products once the standard is approved in early 2013. "The transition to 802.11n is coming to an end, with 84 percent of access points shipments now based on the standard; next-generation 802.11ac products will start shipping in the summer of 2013," said Infonetics.

Cisco Systems is still the top-ranked WLAN vendor. Ruckus Wireless, which recently launched an initial public offering of stock grew 78 percent year-over-year, moved into fourth-place during 2012's third-quarter, said Infonetics.

Bloomberg reported that Cisco has hired Barclays to find a buyer for its Linksys home wireless router business. 

For more:
- see this Infonetics release
- see this Bloomberg article

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