Cisco 'leapfrogs' in WLAN switch ranking

Coming off its purchase of Airespace earlier this year, Cisco is breathing down Symbol's neck in the race to be the WLAN switch leader.

Networking titan Cisco Systems Inc. is inching ever closer to total wireless LAN domination.

A recent WLAN equipment report from Infonetics Research Inc. found that Cisco is closing the gap between itself and Symbol Technologies Inc., the industry leader in the WLAN switch market.

Campbell, Calif.-based Infonetics said while Symbol continued to lead with 28% of the total WLAN switch market in the third quarter, Cisco has made great strides, "leapfrogging [Cisco] into second place by the narrowest margin."

In a statement, Infonetics directing analyst Richard Webb credited Cisco's turnaround to the company's purchase of Airespace earlier this year. Airespace, a WLAN switch startup, took the market by storm, prompting Cisco to cough up $450 million to buy it.

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Webb predicted Cisco will continue to gain on Symbol, which was the first vendor to introduce WLAN switches. The study suggests it is the first time anyone has threatened to dethrone Symbol as the WLAN switch king.

Symbol and Cisco were followed by Trapeze Networks and Aruba Networks, which took third and fourth place, respectively, in the WLAN switch market.

"Despite not having the wireless-only focus of some of its competitors, Cisco has the ability to integrate wireless, security, VPN, VoIP, routing and switching, giving it significant advantages in the enterprise market as wireless LAN converges with other technologies," Webb said. "Cisco is whittling down Symbol's head start in the WLAN switch segment and my soon claim the No. 1 spot."

Webb's research found that worldwide LAN equipment revenue grew to $735.6 million in the third quarter, and is expected to reach $4.2 billion by 2008. WLAN switch revenue alone jumped 18% to $95.1 million and is forecast to reach $746.5 million in 2008.

In the overall WLAN equipment market, Webb said, Cisco still held the top spot, with 22% revenue, followed by Cisco-Linksys, D-Link and Netgear.

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