Wi-Fi to Retain Connectivity Crown in 5G Era as Wi-Fi 6 Chipset Shipments Break 1 Billion Unit Barrier
Technology adoption of Wi-Fi 6 will be driven predominantly by the smartphone market as it transitions away from 802.11ac beginning in 2019.
802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 chipsets are forecasted to break the 1 billion annual shipment barrier by 2022, just three years after the first commercial deployments expected for 2019, according to ABI Research. Although it has taken several years to develop and ratify, market adoption of this standard is anticipated to be swifter than the rollout of 5G technologies. For example, while it took only a couple of years to ratify the first 5G standard, shipments of 5G-enabled devices are expected to reach 1 billion six years after the first commercial launches.
Technology adoption of Wi-Fi 6 will be driven predominantly by the smartphone market as it transitions away from 802.11ac beginning in 2019. However, significant adoption is not expected to happen until 2020, once the standard is fully ratified and becomes increasingly leveraged in flagship devices from key smartphone vendors.
“Wi-Fi 6 pre-standard chipsets are readily available from a number of vendors, including Broadcom, Qualcomm, Marvell, Quantenna, Intel and Celeno,” said Andrew Zignani, a senior analyst with ABI. “Enormous growth in Wi-Fi-enabled devices, increased per-user traffic demand, greater number of users per access point (AP), increased cellular offloading, higher density Wi-Fi deployments, growing use of outdoor Wi-Fi, heterogeneous device and traffic types, and a desire for more power and spectral efficiency are all major driving forces behind 802.11ax’s introduction. As a result, Wi-Fi 6 is already seeing strong traction in networking and enterprise applications due to its ability to enhance performance in dense environments.”
In addition, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently voted in favor of opening 1,200 MHz of spectrum for unlicensed devices in the 6 GHz band. The 802.11ax working group is currently determining how best to incorporate 6 GHz support into 802.11ax in anticipation of the spectrum becoming available. This will help pave the way for smoother adoption of 6 GHz chipsets and devices, if it is granted.
“The rollout of 802.11ax in conjunction with extra spectrum availability will enable better Wi-Fi service and performance than ever before, allowing it to scale up to the next billion of devices, and enable the technology to support growth and traffic demands for the next decade,” said Zignani. “If additional spectrum is made available, many stakeholders anticipate that most of the station and AP devices going forward will have tri-band capabilities that support 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz. The increased spectrum is also likely to form the foundation of the next extremely high throughput standard that goes beyond 802.11ax with the primary objective of increasing throughput through wider 320 MHz channels, more spatial streams, and multiband aggregation.”
For more information, visit www.abiresearch.com.