The worldwide enterprise wireless local area network (WLAN) market grew 6,5% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2017 (4Q17) with revenues of $1,5-billion, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wireless LAN Tracker.
Enterprise WLAN growth for the full year 2017 was 5,7% with $5.7 billion in revenues. The combined enterprise and consumer markets decreased 0,3% year over year in 4Q17, but rose 0,2% for the full year 2017, indicating the market for consumer-grade WLAN remains weak.

In 4Q17, the 802.11ac standard accounted for 83% of dependent access point unit shipments and 94% of dependent access point revenues. For the full year 2017, the 802.11ac standard made up 80% of dependent access point shipments and 91% of revenues. This trend indicates that the 802.11n standard will be nearly obsolete by the end of 2018 in the mainstream enterprise WLAN segment.

Meanwhile, softness in the consumer WLAN market continues. Revenue decreased 9,8% on a year-over-year basis in 4Q17, finishing at $916-million. For the full year, the consumer WLAN market decreased 7,3% compared to 2016 to reach $3,65-billion. In 4Q17, the 802.11ac standard accounted for 40% of shipments and 69% of revenue in the consumer category. T

he slower adoption of 802.11ac in the consumer segment along with price erosion in the 802.11n standard are contributing factors to declining revenues in the consumer-grade WLAN segment.

“Growth in the enterprise segment of the WLAN market continues, albeit at a steadier pace, while the consumer segment is seeing some challenging times,” says Brandon Butler, senior research analyst, Network Infrastructure at IDC. “Organisations continue to realize the benefits and new business opportunities that can be realized by updating and improving their WLAN networks, which is providing opportunities for vendors and network solution providers around the globe.”

From a geographic perspective, the enterprise WLAN market saw its strongest growth in the Latin America region, which increased 35,3% year over year in 4Q17 and 18,5% for the full year compared to 2016. The region’s largest market, Mexico, grew 34,7%; Argentina was up 74,7% but Brazil, the second largest market fell 1.7% year over year in 2017.

Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ) increased 15,9% year over year in 4Q17 and 14.8% for the full year. Middle East and Africa (MEA) continued the solid growth it has seen throughout 2017, growing 11,7% in 4Q17 compared to 4Q16 and 14.4% for the full year. Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) grew 7,8% year over year in 4Q17 and 12,4% for the full year.

The US, which accounted for 37,6% of worldwide share in 2017, had mixed results. Sequentially, US revenues were down 10,4% in 4Q17; but they rose 1% compared to 4Q16. Overall, the US market grew 2% in 2017.

“Latin America and Asia/Pacific are setting the pace for growth in the WLAN market as those regions continue to upgrade to 802.11ac infrastructures with individual countries in the regions at different stages of technology maturity,” says Petr Jirovsky, research manager, Worldwide Networking Trackers. “Overall, IDC forecasts moderate growth in the coming years for the entire enterprise WLAN market.”

Cisco’s worldwide enterprise WLAN revenues decreased 2.9% sequentially from the third to fourth quarters of 2017, but they were positive on a year-over-year basis, up 5.1% to $646.8 million. For the full year, revenues were up 4.8% in 2017 to $2.49 billion. Cisco saw positive momentum in its cloud-managed networking platform Meraki. The company remains the comfortable market share leader, finishing the year with 43.6% share, compared to 44.0% share in 2016.

HPE-Aruba (excluding its OEM business and excluding H3C as of 2Q16) saw its revenue decrease 5.3% quarter over quarter in 4Q17 to $193 million. That represents a 1.2% increase from the same quarter in 2016. For the full year, revenues were up 8.8% to $852 million, giving the company 14.9% market share.

ARRIS/Ruckus, despite being bought by Brocade in 2016 and then subsequently sold to ARRIS in 2017 – a deal that closed in December, the company remains the number three company in terms of market share and continues to be a significant player in the market. Revenues were up 3.0% sequentially in the fourth quarter to $90.5 million, and up 24.4% compared to 4Q16. For the year, revenues fell 5.3% to $334 million, giving the company 5.9% market share.

Ubiquiti recorded strong growth, with revenues increasing 7.3% sequentially and 16.8% year over year to $85.1 million. For the full year, revenues rose 30.9% to $318 million, representing 5.6% market share.

Huawei once again had a strong quarter with revenues in the fourth quarter of 2017 rising 28.6% from the third quarter and up 9.5% from the quarter a year earlier to $96 million. For the full year, revenues rose 45.0% in 2017 to $283 million, giving the company 5.0% market share to end 2017.