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Dell'Oro: Enterprise WLAN Market Up

The enterprise wireless LAN market grew 29 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2005 with total sales of $263 million, according to Dell'Oro Group .

The research firm says the strong quarter was driven by sales of access points, wireless LAN switches, and controllers.

The top two vendors in the market are no surprise. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is the market leader, with switch pioneer Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL) checking in at its usual number number two spot.

What the report does show, however, is that Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN) is cementing its rank as the biggest startup in this market with third position.

Aruba is beating off competition from more established vendors like 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) to take the bronze. (See WLAN Sales Back on the Climb.) The startup won some big deals last year, in particular a contract to supply Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) with WLAN gear for its campus. So, while its not clear exactly what impact that deal has had on Aruba's sales yet, it has clearly raised the startup's profile. (See Aruba Wins Microsoft Deal.) The report also shows how well-established the concept of centrally managed wireless LAN networks is becoming in the enterprise market, just a few years after the initial products of this type were launched.

There are still, however, some intangibles in this market. For instance, it is hard to say exactly how well Nortel Networks Ltd. , which has a WLAN OEM deal with startup Trapeze Networks Inc. , is doing, since it doesn't report sales figures to Dell'Oro.

"It's my sense that [the WLAN] business does well for them," says Dell'Oro analyst Greg Collins, who says that he thinks the OEM deal started to ramp Nortel's sales in the fourth quarter.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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