ABI Research projects 1 billion Wi-Fi 6 chipsets to be shipped annually in 2022

Although 5G is the leading the current telecoms hype cycle, it’s important to remember that Wi-Fi continues to be advanced in parallel with the latest iteration, based on the IEEE 802.11ax standard and branded as Wi-Fi 6, poised for significant near-term market adoption, according to a new report from ABI Research.

Wi-FI is designed for dense deployment scenarios–like a stadium or transportation hub–as well as IoT implementations; it features uplink and downlink OFDMA, 8×8 multi-user MIMO and 1024 QAM.

As it relates to 5G, ABI Research doesn’t see compatible smartphone shipments breaking the 1 billion per year mark for another six years despite commercial activations planned for as early as the end of this year. On the other hand, the market advisory firm sees smartphone support for Wi-Fi 6 beginning next year.

While the latest Wi-Fi standard has a little more tweaking before it’s finalized, vendors including Qualcomm, Broadcom, Marvell, Intel and others have pre-standard chipsets in-market.

ABI Senior Analyst Andrew Zigani highlighted the factors that will prompt Wi-Fi 6 adoption: “Enormous growth in Wi-Fi-enabled devices, increased per-user traffic demand, greater number of users per access point, increased cellular offloading, higher densify Wi-Fi deployments, growing use of outdoor Wi-Fi, heterogeneous devices and traffic types, and a desire for more power and spectral efficiency are all major driving forces behind 802.11ax’s introduction. As a result, Wi-Fi 6 is already seeing strong traction in networking and enterprise applications due to its ability to enhance performance in dense environments.”

Qualcomm’s Rahul Patel, SVP and GM of the Connectivity and Networking Business Unit, reacted to the report on Twitter, calling Wi-Fi 6 “exactly what the doctor ordered” for next-gen Wi-Fi.


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