Update on wireless: Wi-Fi meshing to double by 2010; no-wire sensing expands

By Control Engineering Staff January 31, 2007

Scottsdale, AZ —Wi-Fi meshing, which allows wireless access nodes to achieve a longer range by using each other as repeaters, is becoming increasingly common in several markets, says In-Stat. More than 50,000 Wi-Fi mesh AP (access point) unit shipments are expected in 2006, with almost 100,000 unit shipments expected in 2010, the high-tech market research firm says. Incompatibility among systems, however, is a potential hurdle for the growth of the technology. (For more about industrial Wi-Fi products, search that word at www.controleng.com.)

“There is no industry standard for mesh networking yet, so interoperability between mesh vendors continues to be problematic; customers must purchase their Wi-Fi mesh networking gear from one vendor,” says Gemma Tedesco, In-Stat analyst. “However, Wi-Fi clients are standardized and prolific, providing a ready-and-waiting installed base for Wi-Fi mesh networks.”

Recent research by In-Stat found:

  • Although Tropos has the largest mindshare in municipal mesh networking, Nortel, Strix, BelAir, and SkyPilot made aggressive pushes into the market in 2006.

  • Cisco is perceived as a wildcard in this market. It just launched Wi-Fi mesh APs in late 2005 and is using its strong IT channels into businesses and government networks.

  • Throughout 2006, most Wi-Fi mesh vendors tied their growth to municipal network build-outs.

The research, “Wi-Fi Goes Long: The Wi-Fi Mesh Equipment Market,” covers the market for Wi-Fi mesh technology. It includes an overview of the technology and profiles of major vendors. It also contains forecasts for AP unit shipments and revenue through 2010. Analysis of the technology’s drivers and barriers is included.

In separate research news, Frost & Sullivan expects continuing expansion of wireless sensing. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s World Wireless Sensors and Transmitters Markets reveals that revenues in this market totaled $160 million in 2005 and can reach $1,850 million in 2012. Although the wireless method of transmitting data has been in practice for many years in areas such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), the research firm says, its potential application is now beginning to extend to other industrial, commercial, and consumer sectors.

In keeping with this trend, wireless sensors are rapidly gaining a stronghold in various industrial sectors such as building automation and automation, and are also finding increased use in sectors such as residential controls and medical devices, Frost & Sullivan says. Despite this, the adoption of this technology has been relatively slow. Educating and convincing end-users about the various advantages of wireless sensors will be critical in increasing adoption levels.

“The largest opportunity for wireless sensor networks is as sensing devices in remote or inaccessible areas such as nuclear plants, oil and gas fields, and high temperature furnaces. Overall, the key growth areas for the technology lie in energy for metering, building automation, home automation, energy control, and industrial control (industrial automation),” said Frost & Sullivan.

In-Stat and Control Engineering are part of Reed Business Information.

Frost & Sullivan U.S. offices include San Antonio, TX, and Palo Alto, CA.

For more from Control Engineering , read “Measure More… Without Wires.”

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief, MHoske@cfemedia.com