Research: Wireless Ethernet use increases in industrial networking


Natick, MA —Wireless Ethernet (Wi-Fi) networking is being deployed extensively in industrial applications, with greater use expected, according to research firm Venture Development Corporation (VDC) in a recently completed six-volume global markets and user requirements market study for wireless and wireline network infrastructure products used in industrial facilities.

According to VDC, of the infrastructure products studied, shipments using proprietary protocols, principally in the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz bands, accounted for the highest share of worldwide shipments in 2006, at about 47% of the total. However, the shipment growth rate for these is forecast at below average, and the shipment share is expected to decline to about 44% in 2011.

Several factors will account for the trend to higher growth in use of wireless standards, VDC says. These include the established base and familiarity among engineers and IT departments with IEEE 802.11 and other standards. Advantages of using standard networks include lower prices, interchangeable suppliers, and established best practices (including security and interference protection, and ease of installation).

The research firm says that in 2006, products under study incorporating wireless Ethernet IEEE 802.11 standards accounted for almost 44% of worldwide shipments, and are forecast to account for over 48% in 2011. In this explosive market, the highest shipment growth rate is expected for products using the IEEE 802.11 standards. Of the total market gain of $868.9 million expected in 2011 compared to the 2006 market, products using wireless Ethernet IEEE 802.11 standards are expected to account for $430.6 million, or almost 50% of the increase, according to VDC.

Above-average growth is also expected in shipments of the infrastructure products under study with use of the mesh networking IEEE 802.15.4 standard and protocols built upon it (most notably ZigBee), VDC says. These will continue to account for a larger share of shipments as low-power, low-data rate meshed sensor networks find wider acceptance. However, despite the hype, mesh networking is not expected to account for a significant portion of the industrial wireless networking infrastructure market by 2011.

More research about market position of industrial Ethernet protocols and information about and links to organizations for each network is available from Control Engineering in the article, “ Product Research: Industrial Ethernet Protocols.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief

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