December 23, 2002, 12:00 AM

Wi-fi technology surging in retail stores, study says

Seeing advantages in providing wireless broadband Internet access to customers, retailers will account for nearly half of a surge this year in the purchase of wireless fidelity components, according to a study by Allied Business Intelligence Inc.

Quickly seeing advantages in providing wireless broadband Internet access to customers, retailers will account for nearly half of a surge this year in the purchase of wireless fidelity components, according to a study by Allied Business Intelligence Inc. Allied Business says shipments to homes, retailers and small businesses of the chipsets that power wi-fi routers will reach 22 million units this year, up from 8.2 million last year. “A significant amount of that will get shipped to retailers,” John Chang, senior analyst with Allied Business, tells Internet Retailer.

Allied Business notes that shipments of wi-fi chipsets to small businesses and retailers were initially expected to reach only 14-15 million units this year. But it adds that a decline in the price of the chipsets along with a growing confidence in how wi-fi works is driving up demand. Wi-fi is a form of wireless technology that extends high-bandwidth web access from wire lines to wireless-configured computers, typically within a radius of 300-500 feet.

Allied Business projects that shipments of wi-fi chipsets will continue to grow at a cumulative annual growth rate of 43% between 2002 and 2007. By 2007, it projects that total shipments will reach 131.3 million units, for a total value of over $1 billion. Retailers already installing wi-fi web access for their customers include Federated Department Stores Inc., Starbucks Coffee Co. and sandwich chain Schlotzsky’s Inc.

Wi-fi chipsets are computer processing chips that enable routers and mobile devices like laptops and handheld devices to receive and transmit data over a wireless network.

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