Wi-Fi growth set to rise rapidly

The wireless LAN (WLAN) chipset market is growing at a phenomenal rate, fuelled by mobile PCs, wireless routers and residential gateways, according to market research firm In-Stat.

The company predicts that the market will more than treble over the next four years, rising from just over 140 million annual chipset unit shipments in 2005 to 430 million in 2009. In 2005, growth was driven primarily by mobile PCs, home/SOHO wireless routers and residential gateways, and external clients.

"The market has been driven primarily by traditional networking devices over the last five years, as well as embedded Wi-Fi in mobile PCs," said Gemma Tedesco, In-Stat analyst. "But the market is shifting, as it will be increasingly buoyed by new categories of devices such as handheld games, gaming consoles, cell phones and printers."

In 2005, overall chipset revenues were expected to reach almost US$1 billion. According to the report, Broadcom, Atheros, and Intel were the market leaders last year, each ruling specific market segments. In-Stat predicts that in 2007 and 2008, the phone segment will noticeably emerge, driven by embedded Wi-Fi in cellular phones.