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Worldwide LAN market shows slower growth in the fourth quarter

The combined consumer and enterprise worldwide wireless local area network (WLAN) market segments increased 7.0% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14), according to new data from IDC (www.idc.com).

The enterprise segment continued to grow at a steady rate and increased another 7.4% over the same period last year, notes the research group. After an uptick in year-over-year growth in 3Q14 (9.4%), the enterprise WLAN market growth rate resumed a pattern of incremental growth rate decreases. For the full year 2014, the enterprise WLAN market grew 8.5% year over year, significantly lower than the gains seen in the last few years.

The 802.11ac standard continues to see adoption at a breakneck pace in the enterprise segment. After six full quarters of product availability, the 802.11ac standard already accounts for just over 30% of dependent access point shipments and 44% of dependent access point revenues, representing a noticeably faster adoption rate than the 802.11a/b/g to 802.11n transition several years ago.

Some of the reasons behind this trend include increasingly complete indoor and outdoor 802.11ac portfolios, competitive pricing relative to 802.11n access points, and the higher throughput of 802.11ac that helps meet the demands of what IDC calls the 3rd Platform of IT, built on cloud, mobility, big data, and social business technologies.

The consumer WLAN market increased 6.5% year over year in 4Q14. This represents a slight increase from the 5.6% year-over-year growth seen in 3Q14. The ongoing transition from the older 802.11n standard to the newer and faster 802.11ac standard continues to drive growth across all geographies.

Worldwide consumer 802.11ac WLAN revenues grew 155.6% year over year, with shipments increasing 206.6%. Consumer 802.11ac equipment revenues grew at 100% or more in most regions, performing especially well in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) and Latin America regions, with 479.2% and 344.2% year-over-year growth respectively.

“Where appropriate, enterprises worldwide are seeking to move mission-critical functions from the wired network to wireless,” said Rohit Mehra, Vice President, Network Infrastructure, at IDC. “These organizations are migrating to 802.11ac in order to experience wire-like speeds that enable a more nimble, mobile enterprise. As the 802.11ac ecosystem grows even more robust, expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.”

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