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Wireless market is `riddled with challenges`
Published:  01 November, 2003

Wireless market is `riddled with challenges`

The European market for wireless industrial communications technologies is highly fragmented and is riddled with challenges - but its growth prospects are bright. This is the conclusion of a new study by the analyst Frost & Sullivan, which reports that the wireless market was worth just $117m last year, but is set to quadruple in size between 2003 and 2006.

Hurdles that need to be overcome before the wireless market can prosper, include user scepticism, and concerns over security and reliability. Wider acceptance of the technologies is also being hampered by the lack of standards and the limited awareness of the capabilities of wireless technology among potential customers.

But as customer awareness and confidence grow, so will demand. F&S sees the need to boost productivity and cut costs as being the main market drivers. It predicts that as prices of wireless technologies drop, their benefits - such as increased mobility and flexibility, easier installation, and reduced costs - will stimulate the market.

Because most automation suppliers do not have wireless expertise, Frost & Sullivan expects them to form partnerships and associations with wireless specialists. It cites the example of ABB, which teamed up with the Swedish Bluetooth specialist ConnectBlue in 2003, leading to the development of a wireless control system which is now used to operate and maintain water pumping stations in Oslo.

The utilities have been the biggest early adopters of wireless technologies, partly because they already have experience of using radio links to monitor remote sites. Last year, the utilities accounted for 26.9% of industrial wireless sales. But Frost & Sullivan expects the automotive sector to show the fastest growth in future.

Although the European market for industrial wireless technologies is still at "the development stage", F&S predicts that the coming years will see "a significant and sustained rise in demand and revenues".

* The European Wireless Technologies for Industrial Applications Market. Publication B232. Price $5,500.

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