WiMAX: The big battalions win

As the WiMAX world is finding out, market size and momentum tend to win over time, even when there is a perceived technological advantage. A new report forecasts that by 2013 WiMAX will have 103 million subscribers--unfortunately HSPA will have more than one billion users in the same timescale. In an accurate summing up of the situation facing WiMAX, Mike Roberts, author of the Informa report on WiMAX, describes the situation as 'the best of times and the worst of times' for the broadband technology. The last year has seen WiMAX pass a number of key milestones including product certification, the launch of WiMAX services by major operators and the introduction of WiMAX notebooks and other devices. WiMAX is also playing a key role in major emerging markets such as India where it will account for 24 per cent of total broadband subscribers by 2013. However, during the same period, HSDPA has become a runaway success with operators in major markets worldwide deploying the broadband technology. There is some good news for WiMAX in the longer term. Although major operators including China Mobile have fully committed to LTE the earliest the fourth generation technology can begin deployment is 2010 and that is likely to slip by at least two years. Given that WiMAX will be the leading OFDMA technology by 2013 it should be able to give the nascent LTE a run for its money in some regions.

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