Report: WiMAX growing to 59M subscribers by 2015

The WiMAX ecosystem will continue to grow over the next five years but that growth will be weaker than many had expected a few years ago.

According to a report from ABI Research, there will be roughly 59 million mobile WiMAX subscribers worldwide in 2015, which ABI said represents positive growth given current economic conditions. However, the forecast is below previous growth models for WiMAX. In comparison, research firm Maravedis said in May that although the majority of global LTE deployments will not begin for another year, there will be 200 million LTE subscribers worldwide by 2015.

ABI said the WiMAX ecosystem has been slowed not only by the recession but by delays in the formation of Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), which plans to have 80 markets and 120 million POPs covered by WiMAX by year-end. Despite the setbacks, WiMAX base station shipments are expected to grow through 2015.

However, ABI noted, some of those WiMAX base stations will be built to accommodate a smoother transition to TD-LTE. Even though the WiMAX Forum is finalizing its new standard--802.16m, which is being marketed as WiMAX 2--many WiMAX operators have been considering a transition or upgrade to TD-LTE.

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