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How Wireless LANs Now Support Many Apps at Work

Once again, the bring-you-own-device (BYOD) to work phenomena will help to elevate personal communications within the typical office or factory environment -- thanks to the ongoing adoption of smartphone apps in the workplace. Today, Wi-Fi is being used to connect a variety of devices, besides notebook PCs.

Many consumers already use their home Wi-Fi connection to improve the communication capabilities of their smartphone while indoors. They use Facebook WhatsApp for impromptu chats with friends and family and Google Hangouts Dialer to make high-quality voice calls to anywhere in America, for free. Naturally, they expect the same type of benefits at their employer's facilities.

Consumer and Enterprise Mobility Advances

The combined consumer and enterprise worldwide wireless local area network (WLAN) market segments increased 7.0 percent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14), according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

The enterprise segment continued to grow at a steady rate and increased another 7.4 percent over the same period last year. After an uptick in year-over-year growth in 3Q14 (9.4 percent), 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 percent year over year, significantly lower than the gains seen in the last few years.

The 802.11ac standard continues to see adoption in the enterprise segment. After six full quarters of product availability, the 802.11ac standard already accounts for just over 30 percent of dependent access point shipments and 44 percent 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 savvy mobile communication users.

"Where appropriate, enterprises worldwide are seeking to move mission-critical functions from the wired network to wireless," said Rohit Mehra, vice president 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."

From a geographic perspective, the enterprise WLAN market once again performed especially well in Latin America with 14.2 percent year-over-year growth in 4Q14. The EMEA region notched its third consecutive quarter of solid growth, increasing 9.4 percent year over year.

North America saw a second consecutive quarter of strong growth, increasing 9.3 percent in 4Q14. The Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) enterprise WLAN market increased 3.0 percent on an annual basis in 4Q14. On the other hand, the enterprise WLAN market experienced weakness in Japan, which declined -16.6 percent in 4Q14.

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