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Exploring the New Era of Wireless Tech Innovation

Wireless communications technology applications will gain new momentum in 2022. Looking ahead, wireless device connectivity innovations such as Wi-Fi 6 and Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology adoption will accelerate new growth.

According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, next year Wi-Fi 6 will reach over 1.5 billion annual chipset shipments, while 6 GHz enabled Wi-Fi 6E chipsets are forecasted to nearly triple.

Meanwhile, Ultra-Wideband devices are expected to reach nearly half-a-billion units as adoption increases within smartphones, wearables, speakers, personal trackers, and RTLS applications.

Wireless Innovation Market Development

"The wireless connectivity landscape continues to evolve thanks to the emergence of new technologies, enhancements to established technologies, and continued innovation and competition across the chipset, module and device ecosystems," said Andrew Zignani, research director at ABI Research.

2022 will be a critical year for wireless innovation as the rollout of Wi-Fi 6 rapidly accelerates well beyond flagship Wi-Fi devices, more and more devices support the 6 GHz band via Wi-Fi 6E, and UWB is embedded within increasing numbers of mainstream consumer devices.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi 6 adoption grew across the board in 2021. High-volume smartphone devices from leading vendors have all adopted the technology.

This is expected to continue into 2022, while the growing availability of mobile Wi-Fi 6E chipsets and platforms from leading semiconductor vendors will accelerate the transition to 6 GHz capable devices.

The PC market is also rapidly transitioning toward Wi-Fi 6 and 6E technology. Intel launched its Wi-Fi 6 solution as a configuration option in 2019 and has been partly integrated into all its PC platforms since then.

Hundreds of PC models from leading notebook vendors now support Wi-Fi 6 technology. In addition, PC connectivity chipset suppliers have all had Wi-Fi 6 design wins within notebooks over the last couple of years. 

Alongside this, Wi-Fi 6E is projected to see considerable growth within the notebook space throughout 2022 and beyond, following initial traction in 2021 and the development of new chipsets and strategic partnerships.

Wi-Fi 6 is also seeing increased adoption across several home entertainment devices. In March 2020, MediaTek and Samsung partnered to introduce the first Wi-Fi 8K TV, while in April 2021, the two combined again to introduce the first Wi-Fi 6E 8K TV based on MediaTek’s MT7921AU chipset.

ABI Research expects a greater ramp-up for Wi-Fi 6 in 2022 and beyond as new models support the technology. In addition, Wi-Fi 6 is beginning to ramp up within the media streaming adapter market. 

Apple’s latest Apple TV 4K model supports Wi-Fi 6 technology, as does Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Further traction for Wi-Fi 6 is expected over the next 12 months.

Apple’s decision to deploy UWB technology in its smartphones has accelerated the adoption of this technology, as has the support from Samsung, Xiaomi, and Google within their new smartphones.

Outlook for Wireless Device Applications Growth

According to the ABI assessment, UWB will be incorporated in nearly one-quarter of all smartphones that will ship in 2022 as more models support the emerging wireless connectivity technology.

"By 2026, ABI Research forecasts there will be over 7 billion Bluetooth, 5 billion Wi-Fi, and well over 1 billion UWB annual device shipments. Greater availability of IoT-centric Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E chipsets, combo ICs, and innovations in performance and power consumption will combine to help the market to scale to new heights," concludes Zignani.

That said, I anticipate we'll see more vendors fully understand the timeline for the transition from legacy Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies towards Wi-Fi 6 and BLE in both consumer and IoT applications, and be able to effectively plan for the introduction of new chipsets and products accordingly.

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