Wireless local-area networks (LANs) based on the 802.11 (aka AirPort) standard are on a strong growth spurt, two research reports claim.

The market for such products is expected to grow to $3.1 billion per year by 2006 – from $1.2 billion in 2001, claims research firm the Dell'Oro Group. Apple already produces its AirPort Base Station and AirPort card, which implement the standard, for Macs.

Such networks will be particularly popular in the SoHo (Small office-Home office) market, the report claims, adding: ‘access points for such users will become the largest source of revenue’. The SoHo market is expected to show annual revenue growth of about 40 per cent between 2003 and 2006, the researchers claim.

Wireless LANs based on 802.11 now are the networks of choice for homes, used largely for sharing broadband-Internet connections among multiple computers, according to Dell'Oro. The declining prices of 802.11 systems have helped drive adoption in the home, the company said.

The Yankee Group's findings also bode well for the Wi-Fi market – the number of implementations has doubled over the last twelve months. Increasingly, enterprises are using WLANs, and over a million WLAN access points are in use by over 700,000 US enterprises, claims the report.