Sales of Wi-Fi equipment have rocketed over the past year as consumers flock to adopt the technology, according to a recent report.
Research from analyst firm GfK revealed that sales of wireless routers increased 108 per cent in the first quarter of 2006 compared to the same period in 2005.
Some 380,000 units were sold over the three-month period, worth a total of £24m. Similarly, sales of wireless cards increased by 87 per cent year on year to 525,000 units, worth £13m, in the same period.
GfK noted, however, that it is personal wireless users, rather than businesses, who are focused on the "nomadic" use of Wi-Fi equipment.
With 70 per cent of Wi-Fi cards selling for under £25, and the average price of a wireless router down to just over £60, the affordability of establishing a wireless network at home has been an enormous lure to consumers.
The analyst firm reported that 62 per cent of wireless routers were sold though retail channels in the first quarter of last year, a figure which has grown to over 75 per cent in 2006.
Over the same period, 78 per cent of Wi-Fi cards were sold through retail channels in the first quarter of 2006, compared to 63 per cent a year ago.
Conversely, business users are still the main users of mobile wireless technology, primarily 3G data cards, the research firm said.
The first quarter of 2006 has seen a 580 per cent increase on the first quarter of 2005 in sales of 3G data cards, up to nearly 30,000 units worth £1.7m.
However, the cost of the mobile data card hardware and the substantial tariffs remain prohibitive for consumers.
Jean Littolff, IT business group director at GfK, said: "Although there has been an explosion of retail purchase of mobile wireless data access in the beginning of 2006, the trend is very much on the equipment allowing nomadic wireless data usage.
"But the possibilities for nomadic usage are not problem free. Vendors have done a great job selling wireless technology, but this is of no benefit if the users are unaware of how to utilise the technology.
"To see growth rates continue in such a strong upwards direction, we also need to see the infrastructure behind the technology improve at a similar rate. "
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