Emerging 802.11ax, IoT to drive spending in WLAN: report

A new report by 650 Group shows strong forecasted growth in the Enterprise plus Outdoor wireless LAN (WLAN) market, with 2022 products expected to grow to over 35% greater than 2017 levels.

In the next five years, the Enterprise-class plus Outdoor WLAN market will be driven by two main trends, according to Chris DePuy, founder and technology analyst at 650 Group. Growth mainly in emerging markets will drive WLAN infrastructure investments, but then around 2020, the use of IoT in the enterprise will be significant enough to drive additional WLAN spending, and that will continue to boost enterprise access point growth.

The first 802.11ax products are expected to hit the market in the next month or so, he said.

“In 2018, we’ll see the first wave of shipments,” he told FierceWirelessTech, and while it won’t be terribly significant in size, it will be important to establish that the market is happening and get customers interested. Then a second wave will come in 2019.

He expects that in the developed markets, like the U.S. and Europe, early adopters like schools and universities will be first to adopt 802.11ax. Then when devices really hit the market next year, additional verticals will come on board.

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At Mobile World Congress Shanghai last week, Qualcomm Technologies and Tsinghua Unigroup Subsidiary New H3C (New H3C) announced the availability of the H3C WA6628, an 802.11ax enterprise grade access point, based on Qualcomm's IPQ8078 802.11ax chipset. The WA6628 is targeted to begin shipping to customers in September 2018. Similar to how 5G smartphones are not expected to be rolled out in earnest until 2019, smartphones with 802.11ax are likely to become more common in 2019.

One of the big advantages of 802.11ax is its impact on battery life, which will lead to more use cases for IoT, making it more competitive with Bluetooth and other IoT technologies. “I’m pretty bullish on how that will play out,” DePuy said.

To be sure, 802.11ax won’t compete with cellular or other long-distance IoT technologies because it’s not allowed to operate at a high enough power, but the 802.11ax will help maintain 802.11 as a key IoT technology for local area IoT.

Of course, efforts are underway at the FCC to get more unlicensed spectrum available for Wi-Fi, and that could drive the market as well.