According to ABI Research, by the end of 2020, WiFi 6 chipset shipments will more than triple vs. 2019 shipments, growing to nearly 383 million units.
"In 2020, WiFi 6 will be increasingly adopted across numerous device categories, including smartphones, tablets, PCs, networking products and some premium tier home entertainment devices," said Andrew Zignani, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Wireless Connectivity principal analyst at ABI.
The technology was first deployed last year in several high-profile and high-volume smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S10, Note10, iPhone 11, and iPhone 11 Pro series of devices. This was compounded by numerous access point (AP) and networking product announcements over the course of the year, alongside some traction in notebook PCs.
In 2019, the WiFi Alliance launched its WiFi 6 certification program with certified chipsets now readily available from Broadcom, Cypress, Intel, Marvell, and Qualcomm, removing a further barrier to adoption. Early client adoption from companies like Samsung and Apple is expected to help incentivize others to adopt the technology.
At the same time, companies like MediaTek have also recently unveiled 5G Systems-on-Chips (SoCs) with integrated WiFi 6 support, adding to Broadcom and Qualcomm's mobile WiFi offerings. In the computing space, Intel's promotion of WiFi 6 as a fundamental technology in premium laptop solutions through its Project Athena program is also expected to boost adoption over the next 12 months. Alongside this, the next generation of flagship tablets is expected to follow the lead of smartphones, while in higher-end connected home devices, WiFi 6 technology may be used as a differentiator by leading OEMs.
"ABI Research believes that 2021 will see the first real rampup of WiFi 6 for IoT applications, as more and more chipset providers begin to provide low-power IoT-centric WiFi 6 SoCs over the course of the next 12 months," Zignani said. "As these WiFi 6 IoT chipsets fall in price, and the cost and availability become comparable to 802.11n, the enormous benefits that these solutions can provide vs. existing technologies will help scale up WiFi 6 adoption across a number of IoT verticals over the next few years."