Market research firm Infonetics Research has released its Carrier WiFi Equipment market forecast report, which tracks carrier-class mobile WiFi access points, carrier-class WiFi hotspot access points, WiFi hotspot controllers, and the vendors who manufacture them. "Our many recent conversations with mobile operators and equipment vendors validate our view that mobile operators are hot for hotspots," asserts Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave, mobile offload, and mobile broadband devices at Infonetics Research.
According to the firm, global revenue for carrier WiFi equipment -- including mobile WiFi access points, WiFi hotspot access points, and WiFi hotspot controllers -- grew 35% in 2011 from 2010. Further, mobile WiFi access points are expected to experience the highest compound annual growth rate -- 86% -- through 2016 as mobile operators seek a closer integration of WiFi with the mobile network. Ultimately, Infonetics forecasts the global carrier WiFi equipment market to grow in the high double-digit percents annually at least through 2016, when it will hit $2.1 billion.
Webb adds, "The carrier WiFi equipment market has grown consistently since 2007, initially driven by exploding demand from mobile operators augmenting their 3G and 4G deployments with WiFi hotspot services. The strongest new growth driver is mobile operators deploying carrier WiFi to offload a portion of their mobile data traffic. Additionally, fixed-line operators and ISPs continue to deploy WiFi to extend existing WiFi hotspot services, cable and DSL operators use WiFi as an enhancement for their broadband services, and many operators will soon be upgrading their existing access points to new WiFi standards, such as the forthcoming 802.11ac protocol."
According to the report, BelAir Networks (recently acquired by Ericsson), Cisco, and Ruckus Wireless together account for more than two-thirds of 2011 global carrier WiFi equipment revenue. Infonetics anticipates new players will enter the market, disrupting early market share standings, and, with growing demand for WiFi integrated base stations from mobile operators, carrier WiFi market share could shift toward the mobile infrastructure vendors.