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Q4 Enterprise WLAN Market Up 21.8%

March 10, 2022

The enterprise segment of the worldwide wireless local area network (WLAN) market continued its strong growth in the fourth quarter of 2021 (4Q21) with revenues increasing 21.8% year over year to $2.3 billion, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly WLAN Tracker. For the full year 2021, enterprise WLAN revenues increased 20.4% compared to 2020 and reached $7.6 billion.

The consumer segment of the WLAN market declined 10.1% year over year in 4Q21 and fell 2.5% for the full year, giving the combined enterprise and consumer markets a 3.0% growth rate in 4Q21 and a 6.5% growth rate for the full year. Revenues for the combined enterprise and consumer WLAN markets totaled $17.2 billion for calendar year 2021.

Growth in the enterprise WLAN market continues to be driven by the latest Wi-Fi standard, known as Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax. Wi-Fi 6 access points made up 75.1% of the revenues in the Dependent Access Point (AP) segment and accounted for 61.3% of unit shipments within the segment. Wi-Fi 5 products, also known as 802.11ac, made up most of the remaining balance of Dependent AP sales.

Meanwhile, the decline in the consumer-class WLAN market was largely due to difficult comparisons to the strong results in 2020, when consumers upgraded their wireless connectivity in response to the pandemic. Compared to the full year 2019 (before the pandemic), the consumer market grew 12.6% in 2021, indicating that the market's fundamentals remain strong. Wi-Fi 6 products continued to grow in the consumer market, rising to make up 28.2% of the consumer segment's total revenue and 13.1% of shipments. Wi-Fi 5 APs still make up the majority of revenues (61.4%) and unit shipments (63.6%).

"The enterprise segment of the WLAN market continued its steady rebound in the final quarter of 2021, leading to a significant full-year growth rate for the industry in 2021," said Brandon Butler, research manager, Network Infrastructure at IDC. "The growth rates indicate that organizations across the globe are reinvesting in their connectivity strategy and prioritizing wireless-first access in the local area network as a key part of their digital transformation goals."

From a geographic perspective, the enterprise WLAN market grew across most regions of the world. The market was particularly strong in the People's Republic of China, which saw year-over-year growth of 50.5% in 4Q21 and 47.2% for the full year. In the broader Asia/Pacific region, excluding China and Japan, the market increased 20.9% in the quarter and 16.0% for the full year. Japan's market declined 21.1% in 4Q21.

The enterprise WLAN market in the United States rose 15.4% in 4Q21 and increased 14.6% for the full year. Canada's market increased 11.1% in 4Q21, while the market in Latin America rose 23.6% in the quarter and 33.0% for the full year. In Western Europe the market grew 33.9% in 4Q21, leading to full-year growth of 22.9%; in Central and Eastern Europe the market grew 7.5% for the quarter and 10.6% for the full year. In the Middle East & Africa, the enterprise WLAN market rose 4.8% in the quarter and grew 6.6% for the full year.

"Growth in enterprise WLAN was strong in the fourth quarter across most parts of the world, leading to full-year growth for most regions," noted Petr Jirovsky, research director, Worldwide Networking Trackers. "The enterprise WLAN market is maintaining its healthy growth rates compared to 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was peaking, indicating that organizations have resumed their wireless network infrastructure spending."

Cisco's enterprise WLAN revenues increased 22.1% in 4Q21 and rose 14.2% for the full year. Cisco ended 2021 with 40.5% market share, down slightly from the 42.7% market share in 2020.

HPE-Aruba revenues rose 9.9% year over year in 4Q21 and increased 14.0% for the full year. The company's market share was 12.8% for the full year 2021, down slightly from 13.5% in full year 2020.

Ubiquiti enterprise WLAN revenues declined 3.3% year over year in 4Q21 but increased 14.7% for the full year, giving the company 8.0% market share for the full year 2021.

Huawei enterprise WLAN revenues rose 48.0% year over year in 4Q21 and rose 44.4% for the full year, giving the company 7.4% market share for the full year, up from 6.2% market share in 2020.

H3C revenues increased 41.8% in 4Q21 and rose 33.7% for the full year, giving the company 4.8% market share for the full year, up from 4.3% in 2020.

The IDC Worldwide Quarterly WLAN Tracker provides total market size and vendor share data in an easy-to-use Excel pivot table format. The geographic coverage includes nine major regions (USA, Canada, Latin America, People's Republic of China, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan & China), Japan, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, and Middle East and Africa) and 60 countries. The WLAN market is further segmented by product class, product type, product, standard, and location. Measurement for the WLAN market is provided in vendor revenue, value, and unit shipments.

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