OpenWiFi, Wi-Fi 7, 6 GHz, 5G Convergence to Drive Growth in Wireless Networking
Despite a number of challenges facing the tech sector in 2023, the next five years will see substantial growth in the proliferation of new wireless networking technologies, both in the enterprise and among consumers.
According to a new analysis by technology research firm ABI Research, "successive challenges continue to confront the [technology] market, with the long-awaited easing of supply disruptions giving way to a harsh macroeconomic environment." However, new developments in WiFi, including "the introduction of Wi-Fi 7, tapping of the 6 GHz spectrum, the emergence of new platforms, like OpenWiFi, and the convergence with 5G," coupled with the growing need for faster, higher-capacity, lower-latency networking, will help propel WLAN and WiFI access points to 50% growth by the end of the 2022–2028 forecast period (a compound annual growth rate of 7% over six years).
The impact among enterprises will be almost immediate.
"As Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 gradually introduce the 6 GHz spectrum into the market over the coming years, Wi-Fi will transition from a dual-band to a tri-band technology," said Andrew Spivey, Industry Analyst at ABI Research, in a prepared statement. Unlike in the consumer/residential market, which isn't expected to feel the impact until 2027, "enterprise … will see dual-band be relegated to a marginal status almost immediately, as businesses abandon it for the higher performance and capacity of tri-band, alongside the greater range of Standard Power 6 GHz. Accordingly, mid-tier enterprises will migrate to tri-radio. At the same time, the high-end will adopt quad- and even penta-radio APs, with the additional radios serving as configurable software-defined radios, or as a monitoring radio for enhancing network performance."
ABI also noted:
Wi-Fi 6 AP shipments passed Wi-Fi 5 for the first time in 2022;
Wi-Fi 6 shipments "should more than double those of Wi-Fi 5" in 2023;
2022 saw "an explosion of Wi-Fi 6E clients reach the market, alongside a corresponding nine-fold increase in Wi-Fi 6E AP shipments. However, Wi-Fi 6E AP shipments should peak in 2024, followed by a gradual decline as the value proposition of the standard is eroded by the arrival of Wi-Fi 7."
Wi-Fi 7 APs (pre-certification) will arrive in 2023, but most will be dual-band only.