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8/27/2008
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What Do SMB Wi-Fi Customers Want?

A good percentage of small to medium businesses are planning to upgrade to 802.11n in the next 12 months, according to a survey from ABI Research.

Due to size and budgets, small and medium-sized businesses will have varying needs and wants in their Wi-Fi equipment. But new data from ABI Research suggests there are some significant trends and market opportunities with SMB Wi-Fi customers.

In a new report, entitled "What do Cisco SMB Wi-Fi Customers Really Want?" ABI Research surveyed SMBs who use Cisco and Linksys Wi-Fi equipment.

ABI singled out Cisco and Linksys because they have half of the installed-base market share, making their customers a good representation of the whole market. Although Cisco acquired Linksys in 2003, WLAN equipment is still sold under the Linksys brand name.

ABI found that Linksys SMB customers were more likely to purchase equipment from an online retailer or a brick-and-mortar store. Customers who bought Cisco-branded products were more likely to purchase equipment directly from the vendor or from a WLAN value added reseller.

Small and medium-sized businesses also expressed a strong interested in migrating over to 802.11n, with 45% of Cisco and 41% of Linksys customers saying they had definite plans to upgrade. The overwhelming majority said they planned to upgrade within 12 months.

Businesses may be drawn to the 802.11n wireless standard because it offers higher bandwidth and greater throughput than previous standards, and could potentially lead to a wire-free office. But the standard is not complete yet, and multiple questions remain about reliability and legacy devices.

InformationWeek took an in-depth look at the pros and cons of 802.11n for enterprise use, and the report can be found here (registration required).

While network security is an important issue for many SMBs, ABI said it may not be getting the proper attention it deserves.

"SMBs don't have time or resources to manage security," said ABI VP and research director Stan Schatt in a statement. "A real opportunity exists for a managed WLAN security monitoring service. In fact, nearly half of those surveyed expressed an interest in such a service."

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