Wi-Fi Chipset Shipments Will Near 18 Billion Chipsets During the Next 5 Years

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With over 2.6 billion chipsets expected to ship during 2014 Wi Fi is currently the most ubiquitous wireless connectivity technology for Internet access.

As the technology continues to adapt and expand with new protocols such as 802.11ac, 802.11ax, 802.11ad (WiGig), and Wi-Fi Direct, nearly 18 billion more chips will ship cumulatively from 2015 to 2019.

"There will be a roughly even split in 2019 for Wi-Fi chipsets of different integration levels," said research director Philip Solis of ABI Research. "Standalone, or discrete, Wi-Fi chipsets - increasingly targeting the Internet of Things - will be the largest group, followed by integrated platforms with Wi-Fi targeting mobile devices, followed by Wi-Fi combo chipsets."

Wi-Fi protocols will continue evolving as well. By the end of the forecast period, dual-band 802.11n/802.11ac will comprise the vast majority of chipsets shipped among all the protocols. Dual-band 802.11n/802.11ac had a strong start in 2013 by surpassing 100 million shipments in the smartphone space alone, which accounted for a sizable fraction of the total shipped that year. There will be a strong ramp of tri-band 802.11n/802.11ac/802.11ad during the next five years as well.

Wi-Fi Direct-enabled products will surpass three billion shipped in 2019 with the highest attach rates in ultraportable PCs media tablets, and traditional laptops. However, the largest category of Wi-Fi Direct-enabled products in terms of units shipped in 2019 will be smartphones.

"Even as the industry starts to move this year from 802.11ac Wave 1 to Wave 2 chipsets that can support larger channels and MU-MIMO, Wi-Fi's evolution will not stop there. Aside from this shift and pairing Wi-Fi with WiGig (802.11ad), 802.11ax will start replacing 802.11ac towards the end of the forecast period," added Solis. "802.11ax will further maximize efficient use of 5 GHz spectrum by utilizing unused chunks of spectrum, even coordinating this with other nearby access points. Essentially, 802.11ax will be a better version of 802.11ac Wave 2 that will allow for even greater data rates. The proliferation of Wi-Fi in the home will be supported by the technology's continued evolution."

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