Wireless LAN backlogs pile up to 10X normal levels, according to Dell’Oro Group

According to a recently published report from Dell’Oro Group, the trusted source for market information about the telecommunications, networks, and data center industries, the overall market is expected to exceed $10 billion by 2026, and see a healthy CAGR over the next five years. Enterprise Wireless LAN backlogs will balloon to over 100 percent of revenues in 2022, leaving companies to get inventive in their search for Wi-Fi coverage.  A boost in unit shipments is not expected until late 2023, with a return to normal unit growth still two years away.

“Wireless LAN market sales are being dragged down by manufacturers’ record-breaking backlogs,” said Siân Morgan, Wireless LAN Research Director at Dell’Oro Group.  “Our recent interviews have revealed that the lead time for receiving Wireless LAN Access Points has stretched to between six months and a year – a significant change from the ‘weeks-to-months’ that enterprises were waiting at the end of 2021. Supply constraints have shifted, including not just the main Wi-Fi chips but also secondary or even tertiary components.  With a limited ability to fulfill the orders flooding in, manufacturers will focus their late 2022 and early 2023 shipments on working down outstanding backlogs:  mainly orders for Wi-Fi 6.  Unit shipments should start to loosen up later in 2023, about the time Wi-Fi 7 appears on the market.

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“Enterprises are going to creative lengths to procure Wi-Fi solutions, such as prolonging existing support contracts, using older equipment or even repurposing consumer-grade routers. Systems integrators are recommending ways to enable more applications, squeezing more value from the existing network infrastructure. In sum, now is a time characterized by invention,” added Morgan.

Additional highlights from the Wireless LAN July 2022 5-Year Forecast Report:

  • A calculation on published backlog levels of manufacturers outside China reveals order books swell to over ten times their normal level, exceeding the size of their annual revenues.
  • This year’s market growth of nine percent will be mainly fueled by price increases, with unit shipments remaining constrained. Increased prices will boost 2023 revenues as manufacturers pass on higher costs, but price erosion will begin to take hold in 2024 and beyond.
  • The first enterprise-class Wi-Fi 7 shipments in the fourth quarter of 2023 are predicted to dampen the take-up of Wi-Fi 6E.
  • While the adoption of public cloud-managed Wireless LAN will expand, a substantial portion of customers will prefer private cloud and on-premises solutions as enterprises reevaluate their cloud strategy.