As the 802.11ac specifications make their way through the standardization process, the promise of Gigabit-speed wireless connectivity is prompting optimism from at least one network market-research firm.
In-Stat forecasts that shipments of 802.11ac-enabled devices will go from 0 this year (2011) to nearly 1 billion by 2015. In-Stat's vice president of research Frank Dickson says, "The timing for 802.11ac approval is to have a draft standard created by 2011 and have the first 802.11ac products out by the end of 2012. The technology behind 802.11ac has not been finalized. However, it will likely involve bonding four or even eight channels together and some tweaks to the modulation scheme."
An In-Stat report entitled "Wireless LAN Market Estimates and Forecast by Device and by Technology, 2009-2015" examines wireless LAN global markets, segmented by device and by technology. Included in that report is a forecast fo wireless LAN chipset units for 802.11b/g, 802.11n and 802.11ac as well as segmentation for networking equipment including access points, external adapters, gateways and routers.
Among the findings of In-Stat's wireless LAN research are that mobile devices with WiFi will continue to dominate shipments. In 2015, shipments of mobile phones with embedded WiFi are projected to approach 800 million. Also by that year, a full 100 percent of mobile hotspot shipments will be 802.11ac-enabled. E-reader WiFi attach rates will grow from 3 percent in 2009 to 90 percent by 2015. And next year (2012), WiFi automotive shipments will reach nearly 20 million.