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Tech Insight: Wireless LAN Market to Grow 30% Annually

By Eion Gibson
META Group has today announced its newest METAspectrum evaluation, covering the enterprise wireless local-area network (WLAN) market. Based on its findings, META Group expects the wireless LAN market to grow at a compound rate of 30% annually. This METAspectrum evaluates vendors that focus on providing comprehensive wireless solutions based on the IEEE 802.11 standard to enterprise customers.

We expect a clear distinction among products that will emerge in the next 12-18 months to meet the specific needs of the enterprise, consumer, and public market segments. Vendors seeking success in all markets must strike an effective balance between the richness of features required by enterprises and the low cost needed for consumer and public deployments.

Wireless LAN products targeting the enterprise market must include advanced features for robust security, management, and reliability. To be players in this market, wireless LAN vendors must not only demonstrate a clear commitment to advanced features (beyond Wi-Fi), but also control the manufacturing of at least one part of the entire solution, such as access points or client adapters.

The Enterprise Wireless LANs METAspectrum evaluates the top five vendors in this market. Numerous wireless LAN vendors did not meet the criteria of this study — typically lacking either the advanced features required for enterprise deployments or a focus on enabling mobile applications. The analysis found:

* Vendor success depends on a mixture of performance and market presence.
* The market has transitioned from emerging status to full growth, with core wireless LAN technology quickly becoming commoditized.
* Advance features and services required by enterprise customers remain largely proprietary and can vary greatly among manufacturers.
* Selecting a strategic partner for wireless LAN initiatives is critical, due to proprietary features such as security which can make customers wary of jumping from one vendor to another.
* Best-practice organizations are proactively developing wireless LAN policies, in response to grassroots demand for adoption of the technology and to mitigate risk of rogue wireless networks.
* By 2004, we expect market presence to increase in importance relative to performance, as the technology matures and users place greater value on market penetration and vendor viability.

Eion Gibson, a Strategic Advisor with META Group Consulting Africa, specialises in African carriers/PTTs and consortia; host connectivity, wide area and campus network design and middleware infrastructure. META Group South Africa can be contacted on (011) 880-5644

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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