The economic downturn is likely to cause a slowdown in North American and European in-building wireless (IBW) deployments during 2009-10. ABI Research sees flat growth in those regions for ‘09-10; however, typical 20 to 25 percent annual growth is expected to return by 2013. Buoyed by constant high growth rates in Asia-Pacific and Middle East/Africa, IBW will post a respectable worldwide revenue growth rate in excess of 21 percent over the same period.

The recession is global in scope: why are North America and Europe suffering more than other regions? The answer, says Senior Analyst Aditya Kaul, is partly in the scale: “In Europe and North America there is a greater proportion of large building deployments (500K sq. ft. and higher) and when those get postponed or scrapped, revenue is hit hard. NA and European operators have also seen their CAPEX being squeezed, which is not necessarily the case elsewhere. Also in APAC and Middle East/Africa cheaper passive systems and repeaters are deployed to a greater extent.”

In terms of IBW, some vertical industries fare better than others. In North America particularly, the hospitality and financial sectors have been affected badly. Shopping malls have slowed down as well. “IBW is intimately tied to the real estate market, especially new construction,” says Kaul. “As real estate for specific verticals slows there is bound to be some effect on IBW.”

In contrast, North American verticals such as healthcare are relatively unaffected. Healthcare is a mature market that has always shown strong growth, and continues to see a high demand for in-building systems that can support not just cellular but also VoWLAN, telemetry, location-based applications and electronic medical records. University campuses are also seeing large IBW activity with some universities investing in their own systems.