WLAN revenue up for year, down for quarter

Cisco took the lead in wireless LAN equipment revenue in 2005. Overall, the market for WLAN equipment was up 10% over the year before.

A boom in Wireless LAN equipment purchases by enterprise users pushed overall WLAN revenue up 10% in 2005.

But despite the impressive growth over 2004, the fourth quarter of 2005 saw WLAN equipment revenue dip 5%, according to the quarterly Wireless LAN Equipment report recently released by Campbell, Calif.-based Infonetics Research.

The report shows that overall revenue for WLAN equipment topped $2.4 billion in 2005, regardless of the modest fourth-quarter revenue of $591 million.

Infonetics forecasts the WLAN equipment market will continue to grow, however, ultimately reaching $3.8 billion by 2009. The biggest growth surge will be seen in the enterprise, which will generate a revenue jump of 120% between 2005 and 2009.

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"The enterprise segment is where the action is," Richard Webb, Infonetics analyst and the report's author, said in a statement. "Organizations of all sizes are increasingly mobile- and data-reliant, so the need for network access while on the move is crucial, driving growth of WLAN switches and controllers in particular, which achieve double-digit annual revenue growth through 2009."

Infonetics research found that WLAN unit shipments jumped 39% between 2004 and 2005 to just over 25 million units. Again, Cisco Systems Inc. was the clear leader in enterprise WLAN equipment, followed by Symbol Technologies then 3Com Corp.

Worldwide WLAN switch and controller revenue shipments were also up in 2005, increasing 154%, while revenue grew 93% from the year before. Cisco also had a strong lead in WLAN switch and controller revenue last year, surpassing Symbol, with Aruba Networks and Trapeze Networks just behind.

In 2005, access points accounted for 81% of WLAN equipment revenue, and WLAN switches and controllers accounted for the remaining 19%. Switches and controllers, however, are expected to account for 44% of WLAN equipment revenue by 2009.

North America was the biggest WLAN spender last year, making up 48% of revenue, followed by Europe, the Middle East and Africa with 27%; Asia Pacific with 21%; and the Caribbean and Latin America with 4%.

The report tracked enterprise, service provider and residential WLAN equipment, including access points -- standalone, wireless broadband routers and outdoor bridges -- WLAN switches and controllers and standard and embedded NICs. The tracked vendors included 3Com, Aruba, Buffalo, Cisco and Linksys, Colubris, D-Link, Enterasys, Ericsson, Gamete Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, NETGEAR, Proximal, SMC, Symbol, Trapeze and Zexel

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