Wi-Fi Growth: At Home and at the Bank

New research reports out today are forecasting the continued grown of wireless LAN technologies in some new areas. One is expecting a push into the living room entertainment area, the other report expects to see wireless make big gains into the financial industry now that security has improved.

In-Stat/MDR’s “Wireless Cribs: Living Large with a Wireless Home Network” report says Wi-Fi technology will take the lead in putting wireless into products like DVDs, game consoles, and high-end television displays. Overall, the report says that the six million Wi-Fi products expected to ship in 2002 will be paltry compared to four years from now, when 33 million Wi-Fi nodes will be sold.

In-Stat gives much of the credit to the grown of 802.11-based networks in the home to product vendors like Linksys, D-Link, SMC, Actiontec, and Netgear for continuing to innovate with current products and try to make them more user friendly.

“Wireless Cribs” also goes into some of the challengers to Wi-Fi in home wireless, especially Ultrawideband (UWB), the high-speed wireless with shorter range that could make up for the lack of bandwidth and quality of service in Wi-Fi, at least until the 802.11e specification is passed, potentially in 2003.

The market for WLANs in the United States will remain the largest, but In-Stat says the Asia Pacific region will see notable growth, especially in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore.

802.11 isn’t going to just make new inroads into households, but also at the local bank and other financial outlets. TowerGroup’s latest research reports (“‘Hot Spots’ in the Financial Services Enterprise: Is the Wireless LAN Ready for Enterprise Usage?” and “Playing to Win with Wireless LAN: Considerations for Deployment and ROI”) say the flexibility of Wi-Fi in not only sending data interoffice but also to customers will put the technology into more and more financial institutions. The lack of credible security — much of it vendor driven instead of standards based — has kept many banks from using it, but the group’s research shows 14% of North American financial institutions have a WLAN in at least one facility, and that number is expected grow to 50% by 2006.

Whereas the home market’s Wi-Fi use will likely go toward high bandwidth uses, like streaming video and audio, TowerGroup’s prediction show that WLANs in finance will be fine with the current level of throughput for uses like back-office connectivity and simple roaming in, for example, a bank branch office.