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In a report from ABI Research, Wi-Fi penetration in US commercial establishments employing more than five people is forecast to grow to 45 percent by the end of 2010. The report found establishment penetration is greatest among large businesses, but over the last two years, penetration growth has been highest in the small to medium-size business (SMB) segment.

Enterprise practice director Dan Shey said education and healthcare continue to be the anchor tenants for Wi-Fi equipment vendors. “But now nearly every vertical is expanding use of Wi-Fi, either for employee use or for customers,” Shey said. “Adoption of Wi-Fi enabled laptops, smartphones, netbooks and media tablets among the US population has driven this trend and will continue to do so.”

Cisco-branded Wi-Fi equipment is in more US commercial establishments than that of any other Wi-Fi supplier. However, Cisco’s market share varies widely by size of business. Over time, the competitive threats for Cisco will increase on two fronts, the report concluded. First, smaller Wi-Fi suppliers are targeting the under-penetrated SMB segment with price-competitive, quality products having adequate feature sets. As these smaller vendors establish a presence in the mid-tier market they can take their brand recognition to the larger market segments.

Second, technology evolution and constrained capital conditions are driving companies to consider all their options for choice of Wi-Fi equipment. “Currently,” said Shey, “businesses have far less capital available to them than they used to for purchase of communications equipment. This favors suppliers offering less expensive controller-based systems as well as controller-less systems.”

In the longer term, 4G cellular technologies offer an alternative to Wi-Fi for both on-campus and off-campus connectivity. “US Enterprise Wi-Fi Market” examines the Wi-Fi market in three areas. First, it provides a quantitative review of Wi-Fi deployments across six sizes of business and 19 industry verticals sized by total establishments and establishment penetration.

It also offers market share analysis for nineteen vendors serving businesses with Wi-Fi equipment across six business segments sized by employment. Finally, it reviews major market trends, and the future opportunities and challenges for Wi-Fi technologies serving the US business segment.