According to ABI Research, the WiFi consumer premises equipment (CPE) market - including routers, gateways, whole-home mesh systems, access points (APs), and WiFi extenders - will generate 221 million unit shipments in 2019. ABI says increasing worldwide broadband penetration, combined with the adoption of multiple connected devices, bandwidth-intensive, and low latency applications in each household is continuously driving the demand for efficient WiFi CPE devices.
"Many applications, including video streaming, gaming, and smart home applications, are simultaneously used by home broadband users from multiple devices. As gigabit-speed broadband service is already available to many residential broadband users, consumers are increasingly demanding faster whole-home WiFi coverage with reliable, high throughput," said Khin Sandi Lynn, an industry analyst at ABI. Device makers have introduced WiFi mesh systems to support whole-home WiFi coverage, which is now gaining ground in many markets. Service providers, including AT&T, Cox Communications, British Telecom, and Talk Talk, have launched WiFi mesh systems to their broadband customers to support whole-home WiFi experience.
802.11 ax, commonly known as WiFi 6, is the next WiFi standard ready to gain traction in the WiFi CPE market, ABI says. Supported by key features such as OFDMA, 8x8 MU-MIMO, WiFi 6 can provide a peak data rate up to 10 Gbps. WiFi routers, gateways, and APs supporting WiFi 6 have hit the market over the past year. Device makers are also increasingly leveraging WiFi 6 to mesh systems to improve whole-home WiFi. WiFi CPE vendors such as ARRIS, TP-Link, and Netgear have announced WiFi mesh systems supporting WiFi 6. For higher efficiency supported by WiFi 6, networking devices with the standard are expected to gain momentum in the next two years in both retail and service provider segments.
For service providers, the ability to support better home WiFi networks is vital for reducing operational cost and churn. Partnerships with CPE vendors to offer next-generation WiFi CPE while expanding gigabit network coverage is essential for service providers. Strategies such as integration of the latest WiFi standards into broadband CPE, leveraging smart home applications and features such as voice-control platforms, can help service providers differentiate their services from competitors. Whole-home WiFi mesh systems and devices supporting higher WiFi standards are expected to boost the WiFi CPE market growth in the next five years. ABI Research forecasts that a total of 254 million WiFi CPE units will be shipped in 2024 with more than half of them supporting WiFi 6.