Carl Weinschenk spoke with Loren Shalinsky, a senior analyst with the Dell'Oro Group. Earlier this month, the firm released research finding that that wireless local-area network (WLAN) revenues in the second quarter grew 28 percent compared to the second quarter of last year. These are good days for WLANs, according to Shalinsky, who says the WLAN sector survived the recession in good shape because of the advantages introduced by 802.11n and the resulting embedding of the technology in a rapidly expanding array of smartphones and other portable devices.
" The growth of Wi-Fi-enabled devices is forcing the infrastructure to match that growth."
Weinschenk: How has the enterprise WLAN market done during the past few years?
Shalinsky: Within the enterprise, the bottom in the WLAN market during the recession was quarter one of '09. Since then the enterprise market has grown in revenue in every single quarter. We've seen five straight quarters of growth, with the first two quarters of 2010 both establishing new record highs. It took about three quarters to recover to where it was pre-recession. I think what is interesting about WLANs was that the effects of the recession were diminished because it was continuing to be a growth segment.
Weinschenk: So it has battled through the hard times that affected everyone else and ended up ahead. Why?
Shalinsky: I think it was a combination of things. From technology point of view, the release of the 802.11n standard helped to push the boundaries of bandwidth capabilities. It extended coverage of wireless LANs and that helped set the stage. Also, there was a proliferation of client devices. Historically WLANs were about connecting laptops or notebooks to the network. Now, with the explosion of smartphones and other WLAN devices, it is almost like a pull from the industry. The devices are pulling infrastructure up.
Weinschenk: What do you mean by "pulling?"
Shalinsky: Historically, when someone wanted to connect to the network, there were tight controls on what was allowed and what was not allowed. Now there are all these new devices, such as the iPhones. Often, CEOs walk into the office and try to connect them to the network and aren't been able to. They call the IT department. Originally, the statement from IT was that they don't allow those devices. The CEO seems to be able to change the policy by saying, "We now will allow them to connect." It is a pull from client devices. The client devices have forced some changes.