Global enterprise WLAN market fell 2.2% year over year in 1Q20

The combined consumer and enterprise WLAN market segments rose 2.3% year over year in the first quarter of 2020 (1Q20), according to IDC. The enterprise segment fell 2.2% year over year in 1Q20 with $1.3 billion in revenue.

WLAN market 1Q20

The impact of COVID-19

The first quarter of 2020 began showing the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on the enterprise WLAN market. The novel coronavirus began spreading in China early in the quarter then expanded into Europe and North America later in the quarter. The subsequent lockdown of economies represented a headwind for the enterprise WLAN market.

A driver for the enterprise WLAN market is the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, also known as 802.11ax. Across the enterprise market, Wi-Fi 6-supported dependent access points (APs) made up 11.8% of unit shipments and 21.8% of revenues. The previous generation standard, 802.11ac, still made up the majority of shipments (80.9%) and revenues (76.2%).

Meanwhile, the consumer WLAN market grew 5.5% year over year in 1Q20. Within the consumer market, 62.5% of shipments and 79.4% of revenues were for 802.11ac products. APs supporting the older 802.11n standard still made up 36.9% of unit shipments and 17.6% of revenues, not surprising given the price sensitivity seen across many emerging markets.

“Wireless connectivity remains an important technology for organizations around the world as more users and devices than ever rely on mobile devices to connect to bandwidth-intensive applications,” said Brandon Butler, senior research analyst, Network Infrastructure at IDC.

“The WLAN market is not immune to the impacts from the pandemic that has been sweeping across the world over the last few months. Results from the market’s first quarter of 2020 show the early effect of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, which will continue to impact the market into the second quarter of 2020.”

The geographic perspective

From a geographic perspective, the WLAN market saw strong growth in the Middle East and Africa region, which increased 8.4% year over year in 1Q20. The United Arab Emirates was up 12.0% and Turkey’s market grew 15.7%. North American markets fared well in the quarter too: The USA market grew 6.9% in 1Q20 while the Canadian enterprise WLAN market was up 10.6% in 1Q20.

The market in the People’s Republic of China declined in 1Q20 by a significant 23.0%. The broader Asia/Pacific region, excluding Japan and China, was off 10.6%, with India declining 13.6% and Australia down 15.6%. Japan’s market fell 2.8%.

European markets had mixed results, with Central and Eastern Europe up 1.8% year over year, driven by Russia’s enterprise WLAN market growing 6.0% and Poland increasing 6.6%. Western Europe was off 6.2% with declines in the United Kingdom (-3.9%), Germany (-7.7%), and France (-9.8%).

“The enterprise WLAN market saw mixed results across geographies, based largely on the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted Petr Jirovsky, research director, Worldwide Networking Trackers.

“The pandemic initially hit Asian countries, which resulted in many regional economies slowing investments in WLAN technology. Given the pandemic has now spread across the rest of the world, IDC expects impacts on the enterprise WLAN market to continue into the second quarter of 2020.”

Key enterprise WLAN vendor updates

  • Cisco’s enterprise WLAN revenues decreased 6.7% year over year in 1Q20 to $611 million. Cisco remains the market share leader, finishing the quarter with 45.7% share, up from 44.6% for the full year 2019.
  • HPE-Aruba revenues rose 14.2% year over year in 1Q20. The company’s market share increased from 13.8% for the full year 2019 to 14.4% in 1Q20.
  • Ubiquiti saw its enterprise WLAN revenues rise 24.8% year over year. The company’s market share stood at 9.5% in 1Q20, up from 7.0% for the full year 2019.
  • CommScope (formerly ARRIS/Ruckus) revenues declined in 1Q20 by 4.7% year over year. The company held 5.2% market share in 1Q20.
  • Huawei’s revenues declined 15.0% year over year in 1Q20; its market share stood at 3.8% to end the quarter.


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