Broadband wireless access connections continue to grow, but where's the WiMAX?
There are almost 2 million consumer broadband wireless connections in the world, but only a fraction of them are WiMAX connections. Despite all of the product announcements, carrier commitments and general hype, mobile WiMAX is off to a slow start, with just 193,000 subscribers — most of them on Korea Telecom's WiBro network — according to new research from Maravedis.
The numbers may not be encouraging today, but Adlane Fellah, CEO and founder of Maravedis, said to give the industry a little more time. WiMAX has to pass a few key milestones before the industry hits its full stride, but once it builds up speed, the deployment pace will be a quick one, Fellah said.
WiMAX depends on the economies of scale of a global ecosystem to drive down the cost of infrastructure and silicon. Furthermore, it needs large carrier commitments to encourage the variety of embedded computers and devices that eventually will populate those networks. The first milestone has been reached: The WiMAX Forum has begun certifying equipment and customer premises equipment at 2.5 GHz, the first global band, which assures interoperability between all of that gear. But certification doesn't bring economies of scale; only a large-scale deployment can, Fellah said.
“Until Clearwire gets its act together and launches commercial service, it will be slow,” Fellah said, referring to Clearwire and Sprint's negotiations for a nationwide WiMAX venture. Other operators are waiting for a large-scale deployment such as Clearwire's to catalyze the industry. Once Clearwire's commitment is assured, other operators will move forward with their deployments, and operators already launched will deploy more rapidly, Fellah said.
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