Research company Maravedis said WiMAX subscriber growth slowed in the first quarter as the global recession hurt both subscriber additions and ARPU from business users. WiMAX operators are also hitting barriers such as regulation, delayed spectrum auctions and deployment problems, noted Maravedis analyst Adlane Fellah.
"I think 2009 is going to be another tough year for WiMAX," Fellah said. "It's not declining, but it's not big growth yet."
Interestingly, Fellah said that WiMAX may play a critical role as a mobile data traffic offloader in the coming years as 3G operators experience a strain on their networks and WiMAX has a head start over LTE. He said that even some carriers deploying LTE may use some WiMAX cells to offload data traffic.
The Maravedis survey covered fixed and mobile WiMAX and pre-WiMAX systems. About half of the overall deployments are WiMAX. The number of subscriptions grew about 13 percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared with about 30 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Maravedis. Fellah said there were 3.5 million wireless broadband subscribers worldwide in the first quarter, about half of them using WiMAX, Fellah said.
- see Computerworld
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