The global Wi-Fi market found itself in a challenging position in 2023 with Q3 shipments witnessing a YoY decrease of 13.0%, and expectant revenues for the year set to drop by 8.1%.
This slump is attributed to various factors such as financial constraints, market saturation, and implementation issues. Despite these setbacks, an upswing is forecasted for 2024 with the advent of WiFi 7 and Standard Power 6 GHz anticipated to revitalise the sector.
According to ABI Research, a worldwide technology intelligence firm, we can expect an 8.0% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in WLAN infrastructure shipments from 2023 and 2030. This equates to an impressive 71.3% spike in total shipments.
The year 2024 is set to be particularly noteworthy for the sector as the industry shifts and stabilises in favour of these impending advancements.
Andrew Spivey, Senior Analyst at ABI Research, suggested that the Wi-Fi infrastructure market's rebound in 2024 will significantly differ from recent years.
He highlighted, "The return-to-office trend will spur enterprise Wi-Fi demand, while intra-operator competition will drive appetite for high-end residential Wi-Fi infrastructure." He advised vendors operating in both domains to be responsive to these trends and tailor their offerings to suit the specific needs of these distinct markets.
The introduction of Wi-Fi 7, set for 2024, is expected to introduce several enhancements to significantly improve capacity and performance. One of the pioneering features of this technology will be the Multi-Link Operation (MLO) that enhances spectrum efficiency and resolves interference issues in congested environments, allowing Wi-Fi to serve applications that were formerly out of its reach.
While such innovation holds potential, the adoption of Wi-Fi 7 also presents challenges such as the high cost of Wi-Fi 7 that is significantly more than Wi-Fi 6, potentially posing a hurdle for its adoption in markets with a low Average Selling Price (ASP).
In conjunction with expanding the total addressable market for Wi-Fi technologies, Wi-Fi 7’s introduction will diversify the Wi-Fi infrastructure ecosystem.
Spivey elaborated, "The launch of Wi-Fi 7 will also amplify the fracturing of the Wi-Fi infrastructure ecosystem between regions with and without unlicensed 6 GHz access. This will likely lead to a more diversified product line for different markets and a higher degree of customisation for different customer subsets."
The impending uptake of Wi-Fi 7 and Standard Power 6GHz in the coming year indicates a bright future for the Wi-Fi market after the challenging period faced in 2023. Not only will it prompt a resurgence in technological demand, but it will also shift the dynamic of the sector to cater to newfound industries and applications.