Wireless local area networks (WLANs), particularly those used in the home and in small offices, are a so-called disruptive technology that will have the same impact on the networking industry that wireless phones did to the telecommunications industry, a study released Wednesday by market research firm IDC claims.
A disruptive technology is one that significantly changes the way people and systems operate.
“The largest opportunity will come from the SOHO and home networking space, where Asia/Pacific vendors are driving WLANs to the masses in all corners of the world,” said Jason Smolek, an IDC research analyst.
The finding that the fastest growth for WLANs will be in the home agrees with findings in studies by other market researchers. Local area networks are essential for distributing broadband-delivered services and applications to various devices throughout the home. In an attempt to spur use of such applications, a number of broadband providers have started offering networking equipment to home users.
Worldwide sales of WLAN equipment was $1.45 billion in 2001 and will grow to $3.72 billion in 2006, the study founds. While enterprises are rapidly adding WLANs to their networking mix, the study says that the fastest growth will be in the home and small office space.
Another factor driving growth of WLANs are WLANs placed in so-called public hotspots such as airports and malls that enable users of mobile devices to connect not just to a local area network but also to the Internet, the study notes.
Moving forward, the introduction of faster WLAN technologies such as 802.11a also will spur growth of WLANs.
The findings are part of the IDC report: Worldwide Wireless LAN Equipment Market Forecast and Analysis, 2002-2006.
David Haskin is managing editor of sister site allNetDevices.com.