Wi-Fi Demand Remains Strong Into 2016

A study released by IHS Technology has found a 20 per cent increase in Wi-Fi equipment sales in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same quarter a year ago. This growth has been attributed to the ongoing popularity of 802.11ac wireless hardware.

The quarter recorded a total of US$1.2 billion in Wi-Fi sales, with overall demand remaining strong for 802.11ac hardware. The first wave of 802.11ac emerged in 2013 and now makes up seventy percent or nearly three-quarters of the Wi-Fi market in terms of all access point revenue.

The next wave

Network World expects further demand for 802.11ac hardware in the near future, particularly the new wave 2 specification. The Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) recently announced plans to finalise its wave 2 specification for 802.11ac, which comes with advanced functionality like multi-user multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) and beamforming for better performance in high-density deployments.

Wave 2, which delivers speeds up to 6.8Gbps and allows an access point connect to more than one device at a time, hit the market in 2014. However, adoption of wave 2 hardware has been slow, mainly because the first wave of 802.11ac is still relatively new.

WFA certification ensures wave 2 products work together no matter who made them. This may be the evidence that businesses and consumers need to make the upgrade to wave 2 of 802.11ac.

Even with a slow start, Wave 2 Wi-Fi is already starting to eat away at wave 1’s numbers. According to the IHS study, more than five percent of all access point sales are attributed to wave 2, and this is expected to grow over the coming months.

Wireless networking redefined

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