August 6, 2008

Higher Education Market Fertile Ground for 802.11n Wi-Fi, Finds ABI Research

ABI Research has forecast that Wi-Fi will be available in 99% of North American universities in 2013. Much of that penetration will be in the form of 802.11n equipment: higher education is clearly the number one market for early adopters of 802.11n.

According to ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt, "ABI Research expects 802.11n uptake - which is today fairly small in the education market - to ramp up steeply to quite a high rate of penetration."

There are several reasons for this. Many students now assume a campus Wi-Fi network as a given, and many of their shiny new laptops will be "n"-compatible. Universities have great bandwidth demands, as lecture halls may need to serve a large number of users with multimedia content at any given time. 802.11n's greater speed and capacity can address that need.

Moreover, says Schatt, "Universities are breaking new ground by using video over Wi-Fi in a number innovative ways. This is driving the adoption of high speed 802.11n. Students in the near future (at least the diligent ones) will be just as likely to watch their favorite professor's lectures on their laptops as they will be to view 'America's Next Top Model'."

In an interesting twist, educational institutions with limited funds are jumping to 802.11n to "future-proof" their networks, rather than purchasing an 802.11g Wi-Fi network now and coming back in a year or two seeking funds for an upgrade to 802.11n.

However, a few barriers to adoption do still exist. Some institutions are concerned about the impact of 802.11n's increased bandwidth on the wired side of their infrastructure. Some have limited budgets, and some - particularly those with less emphasis on research - may be conservatively inclined to wait for confirmation of the 802.11n standard before taking the plunge.

A new ABI Research Brief, "There's IEEE 802.11n Gold in Higher Education" ( Wi-Fi_Market_Update/118) examines the reasons why universities have become the leading source of early adopters of 802.11n products. It sizes the potential market for 802.11n within the higher education vertical and provides estimates of global penetration of 802.11n products. It also covers the reasons why some colleges have chosen not to deploy 802.11n as yet. (Due to its length, this URL may need to be copied/pasted into your Internet browser's address field. Remove the extra space if one exists.)

The Brief forms part of the firm's Wi-Fi Research Service (, which also includes other Research Briefs, Research Reports, Market Data, ABI Insights, ABI Vendor Matrices, and analyst inquiry support.

ABI Research is a leading market research firm focused on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets. Utilizing a unique blend of market intelligence, primary research, and expert assessment from its worldwide team of industry analysts, ABI Research assists hundreds of clients each year with their strategic growth initiatives. For information, visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.