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Broadcom tops sales of WLAN equipment

Wireless local area network equipment shipments increased a hefty 53 percent in 2003 from 2002 to $3.9 billion worldwide, according to a study by Forward Concepts.

The report, titled, “WLAN for Enterprise and The Multimedia Home,” anticipates a 21-percent compound growth rate to the $8.5 billion level in 2007. Forward Concepts identifies Cisco Systems Inc. and Linksys, now a Cisco acquisition, as leading the WLAN equipment market, followed by players such as Buffalo, D-Link, Netgear, Symbol Technologies and a host of others.

The study says Cisco has “helped to resolve WLAN security issues, but has also provided clients with lower-cost secure network adapters.” The networking company has licensed its security technology with chipmakers such as Atheros, Agere Systems Inc., Broadcom and Texas Instruments Inc.

The equipment market includes network interface cards, wireless broadband router gateway access points, indoor access points, LAN-to-LAN outdoor building bridges, multimedia adapters and voice over Internet Protocol phones.

The report said Broadcom, closely followed by Atheros and Intersil, beat all WLAN chipmakers in revenue. TI ranked first in unit shipments, followed by Broadcom, Intersil, Atheros and Agere.

The study played up the home Wi-Fi/VoIP phone market, which is riding the growth of broadband connections and interest from traditional long-distance carriers like AT&T Corp. to “jump start this market by selling VoIP sales kits to broadband cable and DSL subscribers.”

The report predicts shipments of 20 million units of Wi-Fi over broadband phones, Wi-Fi-converged cellular phones and Wi-Fi downloading camera phones this year. Nokia Corp., Motorola Inc. and Samsung Electronics are making the phones, while Qualcomm Inc. will sample 802.11b chips in 2004.

The study anticipates some players to exit the market because of smaller margins in an increasingly competitive environment. This is emphasized by Intel Corp.’s acquisition of Envara Inc. The chipmaker “will soon dominate the notebook computer market with its own silicon,” Forward Concepts said.

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