Wireless access is about to get faster and more widespread, says ABI Research, who expects global Wi-Fi access-point shipments to exceed 70 million by 2010. 90 percent of the expected shipments will be in the small office/home office (SOHO) and consumer markets. Much of the improvement in penetration will be due to the rapid adoption of the new, much faster, 802.11n Wi-Fi standard. Currently, 84 percent of wireless devices are the older 802.11a/g, but will be replaced rapidly by 802.11n, ABI predicts, especially as prices lower.

"802.11n will develop so rapidly that by the end of 2009, its shipments will almost be on par with that of 802.11g," said ABI Research industry analyst Serene Fong. "And by 2010, 802.11n revenue will be twice that of 802.11g."

802.11n, becoming available in more and more commercial electronics, is faster and has a much better range, and is considerably better for file transfers and content streaming.

In an October test, Network World found that the best 802.11 access points were up to ten times faster than 802.11a or g.

It is also more secure, having stronger encryption.

The new wireless standard is currently most used by large industries like education and healthcare, industries that demand the transfer of larger files. Small and medium companies are also turning towards it for its reliability, especially those with smaller IT staffs.

Consumer electronics are also driving Wi-Fi adoption, as connectivity is increasingly needed for TVs, gaming systems and laptops. Eight out of ten wireless access points in this category are still 802.11g

By Mark Alvarez