Global enterprise WLAN market declines moderately in Q2, 2020: IDC

The combined consumer and enterprise worldwide wireless local area network (WLAN) market segments rose 7.1% year over year in the second quarter of 2020 (2Q20), according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wireless LAN Tracker. The enterprise segment declined 9.5% year over year in 2Q20 with USD 1.4 billion in revenue.

The second quarter results reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the enterprise WLAN market. With the Coronavirus continuing to spread governments in many regions imposed quarantines and lockdowns, which presented a headwind for the enterprise WLAN market. Revenues for the enterprise class of WLAN infrastructure have now declined 6.1% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period a year earlier.

A driver for the enterprise WLAN market is the Wi-Fi 6 standard, also known as 802.11ax. Across the enterprise market, Wi-Fi 6-enabled dependent access points (APs) made up 28.9% of revenues, up from 21.8% in the first quarter of 2020 and indicating significant adoption of the newest WLAN standard in the enterprise market. Wi-Fi 6 units accounted for 16.8% of shipments, up from 11.8% in the previous quarter. The Wi-Fi 5 standard (802.11ac) still makes up the majority of dependent AP shipments (75.6%) and revenues (69.4%). Overall unit shipments in the enterprise WLAN market fell 6.4% compared to 2Q19.

Meanwhile, the consumer WLAN market grew 20.3% year over year in 2Q20. Within the consumer market, 60.2% of shipments and 73.7% of revenues were for 802.11ac products. 802.11ax units made up 3.6% of shipments and 9.5% of revenues, showing the slow adoption of Wi-Fi 6 in the consumer market. Aps supporting the older 802.11n standard still made up 36.2% of unit shipments and 16.8% of revenues.

“Organizations around the globe were forced to rapidly adjust their operations in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, leading some organizations to pause investments in WLAN equipment,” says Brandon Butler, senior research analyst, Network Infrastructure. “Wireless connectivity can play an important role in the new normal operations of enterprises though. From providing connectivity for cloud-based and communication applications, to enabling the ability to alert and enforce social distancing rules, IDC believes wireless networking will remain an important part of enterprise IT buying plans in the coming years.”

From a geographic perspective, the WLAN market saw mixed results across the globe in 2Q20. The strongest growth was in Asia, where Japan’s market grew 20.8% year over year and China’s market was flat with 0.8% annual growth. Across the broader Asia/Pacific region, excluding Japan and China, the market fell 7.6% year over year. Within the region, Australia’s market declined 13.6%, India’s market dropped 18.7%, while Taiwan grew a strong 49.1%.

Results were mostly down across Europe. In Western Europe, the enterprise market dropped 17.2% with Germany down 15.0% year over year, the United Kingdom off 23.8%, and France down 22.3%. Meanwhile the Netherlands was nearly flat with 1.0% growth. The Central and Eastern Europe region was down 11.3% with Poland off 14.4% year over year. In the Middle East and Africa, the market fell 5.7% on the year, with Saudi Arabia dropping 18.7% on an annualized basis. In the Americas, the United States was off 11.1% from one year ago while Canada dropped 14.8% year over year. The Latin American market fell 16.2% with Brazil declining 17.3% compared to 2Q19.

“The enterprise WLAN market saw mixed results across geographies, based largely on the spread of the COVID-19 global health pandemic,” noted Petr Jirovsky, research director, Worldwide Networking Trackers. “IDC research shows that while some enterprises are reducing spending for WLAN equipment, others have kept investment plans steady, with some even increasing spending. IDC predicts the enterprise WLAN will remain dynamic in the second half of the year.”

Enterprise WLAN Vendor Highlights:

  • Cisco’s enterprise WLAN revenues decreased 10.9% year over year in 2Q20 to USD 626 million. In the first half of 2020, Cisco’s revenues are down 8.9% compared to the first half of 2019. Cisco remains the market share leader, finishing the quarter with 44.3% share, down from 45.7% in 1Q20.
  • HPE-Aruba revenues fell 17.1% year over year in 2Q20 and the company’s market share stood at 12.8%.
  • Ubiquiti enterprise WLAN revenues fell 5.0% year over year. The company’s market share was 7.1%, down from 9.5% in the previous quarter.
  • CommScope (formerly ARRIS/Ruckus) revenues declined 22.8% year over year in 2Q20. The company held 4.9% market share in the quarter.
  • Huawei’s revenues rose 2.5% year over year in 2Q20 and its market share rose to 6.1% from 3.8% in the previous quarter (1Q20).
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