French WiMAX deployment in disarray

Two years after the allocation of the regional WiMAX licences in France, the local telecoms regulator, ARCEP, has found that only three of the 19 licence holders have met their obligations with approximately 15 per cent of the promised sites operational by the end of June 2008.

According to Ovum, Bollore Telecom, the most aggressive bidder for WiMAX spectrum, had only deployed 11 sites by the end of June 2008 instead of the 968 sites it was supposed to have rolled out. However, there are even worse situations, as nine licence holders have done nothing. In total, 3,564 sites were supposed to be operational by the end of June 2008, but only 526 were effectively up and running.

The situation, claims Ovum, has not been helped by the French WiMAX market becoming even more fragmented, with a total of 19 licence holders compared to the original 10. This is mostly due to the fact that the regional public authorities that won spectrum have been distributing their rights at a department level. The lack of WiMAX end user devices has also not helped the overall position.

ARCEP has stated that the supervision of WiMAX rollouts will continue until the next deployment obligation deadline, scheduled for December 2010.

However, WiMAX looks increasingly likely to remain a niche market in developed broadband countries, whereas in Eastern European countries its chances of success are more likely.

For more on this story:
- go to Ovum

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