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Network managers think you're coming back to the office. Why else did they go on a Wi-Fi 6 buying spree?

Q1 WLAN sales rose by 16.7 per cent year-on-year

A surge in wireless LAN sales in the opening three months of 2021 signals businesses are preparing to have you return to the office, according to IDC.

The WLAN enterprise segment grew by a hefty 24.6 per cent year-on-year to $1.66bn for 1Q21, while the consumer market grew 11.7 per cent to $2.34bn. Total combined sector sales grew by 16.7 per cent to $4.013bn.

Growth was particularly strong in Asia Pacific, with China up 41.2 per cent year-on-year and Japan jumping by 111.8 per cent due to preparations for the summer Olympics. Eastern Europe and Middle East/Africa lagged behind, with 3.9 per cent and 2.6 per cent growth respectively.

Cisco won a 44.4 per cent market share, placing it way out in front of second-placed HPE-Aruba (14.8 per cent), Ubiquiti (9.1 per cent), CommScope (5 per cent), and H3C (3.2 per cent). Of the five key vendors, HPE-Aruba had the largest year-on-year Q1 revenue growth of 27.7 per cent.

WLAN vendors have COVID-19 vaccines to thank for the surge, as enterprises have made Wi-Fi upgrades a priority in preparation for a resumption of in-person interactions.

"As vaccines continue to roll out across the globe, organisations are preparing their enterprise networks for workers, customers, students and other patrons to return to their campuses and they're investing in enterprise-class WLAN technology to enable connectivity," said Brandon Butler, senior research analyst, Network Infrastructure at IDC.

An upgrade in Wi-Fi standards to Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax, also helped boost sales. Wi-Fi 6 access points comprised 50.5 per cent of enterprise 1Q 2021 access point product segment sales, up from 43.7 per cent in 4Q2020. Consumer Wi-Fi 6 rose to 20.3 per cent of total sales year-on-year, up from 16.2 per cent. ®

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