WLAN technology remains one of the foundational technologies for businesses .
Revenues in the enterprise segment of the wireless local area networking (WLAN) market grew a robust 24.6 per cent year over year in the first quarter of 2021 (1Q21). In the consumer-class WLAN market, revenues increased 11.7 per cent in the quarter, giving the combined enterprise and consumer WLAN markets year-over-year growth of 16.7 per cent in 1Q21, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wireless LAN Tracker.
The 24.6 per cent growth in the enterprise-class segment of the market builds on a strong end of the year in 2020, with fourth quarter 2020 revenues increasing 10.3 per cent year over year. Combined, two strong quarters in a row indicate that enterprises have begun to recover from pausing or cancelling WLAN infrastructure investments in the previous quarters of 2020.
Growth in the enterprise WLAN market continues to be driven by the latest Wi-Fi standard, known as Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax. For the first time in the enterprise segment of the market, Wi-Fi 6 access points (AP) made up more than half (50.5 per cent) of the revenues in the dependent AP product segment, up from 43.7 per cent in the previous quarter. Wi-Fi 6 products made up 37.1 per cent of dependent AP shipments, up from 32.2% in the previous quarter. Wi-Fi 5 products, also known as 802.11ac, made up the vast balance of remaining dependent AP sales.
Meanwhile, the consumer-class WLAN market continued to perform well in 1Q21, although at a slower growth rate than what was seen in much of 2020. The consumer-class WLAN market increased 11.7 per cent in revenues and 5.0 per cent in unit shipments. Wi-Fi 6 products continued to grow in the consumer market, rising to 20.3 per cent of the consumer segment’s total revenue, up from 16.2 per cent in 4Q20. Wi-Fi 5 APs still make up the majority of revenues (66.2 per cent) and unit shipments (61.8 per cent).
“The enterprise WLAN market showed a strong rebound in the first quarter of 2021. As vaccines continue to roll out across the globe, organizations are preparing their enterprise networks for workers, customers, students, and other patrons to return to their campuses and they’re investing in enterprise-class WLAN technology to enable connectivity,” said Brandon Butler, senior research analyst, Network Infrastructure, IDC. “Despite a pause in some Wi-Fi investments in 2020, WLAN technology remains one of the foundational technologies for businesses across the globe today.”
From a geographic perspective, the enterprise WLAN market saw growth across all major regions of the world. Growth was particularly strong in the Asia/Pacific region: the market in China grew 41.2% year over year, while Japan’s market increased 111.8 per cent as preparations are underway to host the Olympics this year. Across the rest of the region, annual growth reached 19.3 per cent with Australia recording a 27.4 per cent increase year over year.
Growth was also strong in the Americas where the U.S. market increased 24.1%, Canada’s market grew 29.3 per cent, and the Latin America region increased 23.8 per cent.
In Europe, results were more mixed but still positive. The Western Europe market increased 15.8 per cent year over year with strength from Germany’s market, which grew 25.9 per cent. Central and Eastern Europe increased 3.9 per cent while the Middle East and Africa region was up 2.6% year over year.
“Growth was positive across most regions of the world in the first quarter of 2021, which is a strong indication that the enterprise WLAN market is recovering from 2020,” noted Petr Jirovsky, research director, Worldwide Networking Trackers. “IDC expects growth to continue in the remaining quarters of 2021 as the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to wane and enterprises look to invest in mobility and connectivity solutions.”