Study: Asia moves quickly as WLAN takes off

The Wireless LAN (WLAN) market grew 175 per cent in 2001 terms of equipment sold, with Asian countries becoming a major part of the market, according to a study released Wednesday by market analyst In-Stat/MDR.

The Asia-Pacific region, led by South Korea and Japan, will account for almost 25 per cent of business WLAN unit shipments in 2002, overtaking the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region.

Worldwide WLAN unit sales will increase by 60 per cent this year, but rapidly falling prices for equipment means that vendor revenue will only rise by 7 per cent, In-Stat said. Prices of WLAN equipment conforming to the 802.11b standard are consistently falling, and prices of the newly-introduced 802.11a equipment have been lower than expected.

IEEE 802.11b operates in the 2.4GHz band with a maximum data throughput of 11M bps (bits per second), and IEEE 802.11a, which is a more recent technology has a maximum data throughput of 54M bps and operates in the 5.2GHz band

Over 10 million units of WLAN equipment will be sold in 2002 and this will rise to over 40 million per year by 2006, according to In-Stat estimates.

Other findings in the study include:

• businesses implementing WLAN are concerned about security, but also want their systems to be manageable, scalable and cost-effective.

• falling prices have seen WLAN equipment begin to make its mark in small businesses, remote branch offices and small departments of large companies

• combination 2.4GHz/5GHz Network Interface Cards (NICs) are expected to drive the NIC segment of the market going forward, as end users want to access whatever type of access point technology is within reach.

Several major companies around the world have started offering commercial service or trialing widespread WLAN networks.

In Japan, NTT Communications Corp. expects to have a network of 1,000 access points set up in Tokyo by the end of this year.

NTT DoCoMo Inc. launched its MZone WLAN service in Tokyo in July, with rival Japan Telecom Co. Ltd. expected to launch a service within 2002.

In South Korea, national carrier Korea Telecom Corp. (KT) plans to install 15,000 WLAN access points by the end of the year, while rival Hanaro Telecom Inc. plans to install 10,000 by year’s end, analysts and media have reported.

In the U.K., British Telecommunications PLC (BT) is expected to launch its WLAN service, called Openzone, later on Thursday

The French telecommunication regulator will allow the creation of public WLAN “hot spots” in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands before the end of the year. Germany, Sweden and Finland already have WLAN services operating.

In the U.S., IBM Corp. has said it is interested in helping to set up a seamless WLAN network across the country.