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Internet of Things Apps will Drive New WLAN Investment

Mobile internet adoption has been on a path of exponential growth across the globe, as more low-cost smartphones and media tablets join the millions of new notebook computers entering the marketplace. Many of those devices will connect via Wi-Fi access.

Moreover, wireless access to the public internet is a key component of the essential infrastructure that will enable emerging Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Therefore, significant new investment in Wi-Fi access points will likely become an indicator of market development activity.

The combined consumer and enterprise worldwide wireless local area network (WLAN) market segments increased 2.1 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2015 (3Q15), according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC ).

The overall enterprise segment growth rebounded by 4.3 percent over the same period last year. "The growth seen in 3Q15 is relatively weak compared to 2014 and before, but still represents a positive trend from what we saw in the second quarter of 2015." said Nolan Greene, research analyst at IDC.

This anemic growth is half of what the market experienced throughout 2014. The low annual growth rate, as compared to previous years, is due to the confluence of two factors -- a hold on new WLAN projects due to the uncertain global economy and market anticipation of Wave 2 802.11ac standard products.

The 802.11ac standard continues on its brisk adoption path and now accounts for 57 percent of dependent access point unit shipments and 72.7 percent of dependent access point revenues.

Increased demand on enterprise WLANs will continue to be a driving factor in this transition, especially as new enterprise mobility use cases are adopted and IoT applications move into the mainstream.

Meanwhile, the adoption of the 802.11ac standard in the consumer market has been significantly slower than in the enterprise segment. Currently the 802.11ac standard accounts for just 15.3 percent of shipments.

From a geographic perspective, the enterprise WLAN market once again saw its strongest growth rates in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan), which saw 14 percent year-over-year growth in 3Q15. Within that region, China increased 19.8 percent, India jumped 48.4 percent, and Korea was up 11.2 percent year over year.

North America grew 4.9 percent year-over-year. The Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region saw a varied performance within its sub-regions in 3Q15. While Western Europe grew 2.3 percent, Central & Eastern Europe declined -13.3 percent and Middle East & Africa was down -5.4 percent.

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