Wireless networking vendors shipped about 3.3m units in 2000, but by the end of June 2001 they had already shipped 3.5m units, said Gemma Paulo, an analyst at Cahners In-Stat.
Shipments of wireless networking products, such as network interface cards (NICs), will reach 23.6m units by 2005, the study predicts.
The most popular use of wireless networking technology involves wireless NICs, which let mobile users connect to their company's local area network without the need for a physical interface.
The 802.11 family of standards, based on Ethernet technology, is the most popular method of enabling wireless networking. Four standards are currently recognised:
- The original 802.11.
- 802.11a, a high-speed connection based on asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) technology.
- 802.11b, the most widely accepted standard, which offers data-transmission speeds that are faster than those provided by the original 802.11 standard.
- The newly accepted 802.11g, which enables higher transmission speeds than 802.11b, although the two standards are compatible and products that use them can interoperate.
The price of networking products has fallen considerably, and with the recent approval of the 802.11g standard and eventual release of 802.11a products, users will have a wealth of options to choose from when setting up wireless networks, said Paulo.
Chipsets for 802.11a products are expected some time in 2002, with products reaching users by 2003, she added.
Security problems inherent to wireless networking technology must be addressed by organisations when building their networks through the installation of virtual private networks (VPNs) and authentication technologies, said Paulo.
The study also highlighted the growth of wireless technologies outside of the US. While the US was responsible for most of the purchases in the market, Europe and Asia-Pacific also saw growth in the first half of 2001, according to the study.
Japan and South Korea are two hotspots in the Asia-Pacific region, based on the popularity of applications for mobile phones, said Paulo. The popularity of mobile phones in Europe has boosted sales of wireless networking products used in conjunction with the phones.