Trend #4 - Operators stressed applications and a unified, Web-enabled experience more than ever before. The usage model has experienced a dramatic shift,which is evident in the rising market shares of Apple iPhone, Samsung, RIM and other Web-device competitors. Google Android has made significant inroads. More impact is likely to be seen in 2010 however, as Motorola and other suppliers gain momentum.
WiMAX market trends:
Trend #5 - Not surprisingly, WiMAX felt the impact of economic slowing, putting pressure on greenfield operators. Toward the end of the year, several suppliers reported that a bottom had been reached and expected an upturn in business--modest or otherwise--going forward.
Trend #6 - Underserved markets including Russia, Malaysia, and the African continent saw robust growth. A few markets such as India continued to see delays in spectrum auctions and deployments.
Trend #7 - Clearwire provided greater visibility into their deployment schedule early during 2009 and exceeded their goals for deployments: deploying in 27 cities by the end of the year and disclosing plans for several more for 2010. Google Android did not become available on the Clear network even though it became widely available on 3G. The rumored availability of Motorola Android phones on WiMAX did not come to pass.
Trend #8 - Verizon began 2009 claiming it would have at least two pilot networks deployed by the end of the year. Although trial deployments have been made, Verizon has made no announcements and has shifted its strategy to "all at once" rollouts.
Trend #9 - As expected, several operators have nudged out their earlier forecasts for commercial availability of LTE service into late 2010 or early 2011. As development proceeds towards more realistic launch dates, some of the pre-launch hype can be expected to fade. Additional operators announced they would upgrade to HSPA and HSPA+. But we also witnessed additional plans to deploy LTE multi-carrier networks including harbinger turn-about by AT&T. We have long advocated this route for MIMO-OFDMA based networks.
Trend #10 - Sprint and Clearwire have seen momentum in sales of 3G+ WiMAX multiple mode. Time Warner and Comcast launched Clearwire WiMAX and Sprint 3G service plans. Comcast said that performance and sales have exceeded early expectations, enthusing a further spate of investment.
We think that 2010 will shape up to be a better year for wireless industry growth overall. However, creative destruction will move forward as well. We will be issuing our forecasts for 2010 in January.
Robert Syputa is a senior analyst and partner with Maravedis, a research and analysis firm focusing on disruptive technologies including smart networks using WiMAX, IEEE and 3GPP/LTE. For more information visit http://www.maravedis-bwa.com.