European businesses are delaying deployment of 802.11b Wireless Lan (WLan) networks as they await next generation technology, says a recent market study.
Although the faster 802.11a standard has yet to be sanctioned for use in Europe, analysts believe that permission for the technology cannot be far away - especially after the alliance pushing the rival HiperLAN 2 standard collapsed.
"Nokia and Ericsson had been pushing for HiperLAN 2, but both look to be supporting 802.11a now," said Gemma Paulo, an industry analyst with In-Stat.
The 802.11a technology under development promises to deliver wireless Lans running at 54Mbps.
That is far in excess of the 10Mbps offered by 802.11b equipment today. With a greater commitment to wireless data, Europe is expected to provide a receptive market for that increased wireless speed.
"That kind of increase in speed is key to many European companies' plans for WLan's, so they are waiting for 802.11a before they deploy any kind of WLaninfrastructure," said Paulo.
Despite European reticence towards 802.11b, shipments of 802.11b WLan equipment grew strongly in the fourth quarter, with worldwide equipment shipments up 14 per cent in Q4 2001 over the previous quarter, according to research from In-Stat.
Business sales represented $344m of the estimated $464m 802.11b equipment market, according to the report.
Nevertheless, while shipments grew, falling prices mean much of that equipment is becoming far cheaper.
Decreasing prices, especially for 802.11b network interface cards (NICs) and low-end access points (APs), has hit the revenue side of the industry with revenue actually falling in the same quarter.
According to Paulo, while Europe is still seeing growing 802.11b sales, faster uptake in Japan and Korea has helped make the Asia Pacific region the fastest growing market.
The 802.11b market looks likely to hold off its faster successor for a while yet.
Cisco, the market leader in 802.11b, is not set to ship its first 802.11a products until mid-2002, and Paulo maintains that sales of 802.11a will not start in earnest until the end of the year.
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