Wimax’s backers have pinned their hopes on the developing world, but the wireless broadband technology is destined for niche status in these markets, according to Ovum.
Wimax will account for less than 5% of the 1.5 billion fixed and mobile broadband connections in emerging markets by 2014, the research firm has forecast.
Ovum practice leader Angel Dobardizev said Wimax is currently not competitive against fixed or mobile broadband alternatives in urban areas of these markets. “On a non-subsidized basis, it is currently priced and positioned as a broadband option only for businesses or wealthy consumers,” he said.
Although two thirds of the over 300 Wimax networks deployed globally are in emerging markets, operators have struggled to gain subscribers.
Many Wimax operators had predicted they would have hundreds of thousands of subscribers by this point. But as of August, only one Wimax operator in these markets – Russia's Scartel - had reached the 100,000 subscriber mark. Malaysia's Packet One was next with 80,000.
The financial crisis had also caused most Wimax operators to fall behind on their network deployment, Dobardizev added.
All these factors would force the Wimax industry to consolidate on a large scale over the next two to three years. Most independent Wimax players will either be acquired by an established operator or go out of business, Ovum said.