Ronnie05's Blog

WiMAX: Why will it Stick?

Posted in The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on June 8, 2009


Doomsayers and analysts have in the recent past rubished future prospects of WiMAX in the face of a greater acceptance (by major operator/Telecom consortiums) of its competition standard LTE. Nokia has gone to the level of stating that it was withdrawing its investments in WiMAX since it believed that WiMAX was the analogical equivalent of Betamax in the war of standards. Read the reference story and an earlier post on this subject.


A recent market survey by Maravedis, “WiMAX and Broadband Wireless Access Equipment Market Analysis, Trends and Forecasts, 2009-2014,” has come up with a few interesting and noteworthy points on the viability of WiMAX as a technology standard.


1. Inspite of a tough year 2008, and a growing buzz about the 3GPP backed LTE being the telecom standard, the WiMAX ecosystem experienced a healthy growth in 2008 and mobile WiMAX has made significant inroads (although short of targets)


2. Over 1.2 million WiMAX complaint CPEs and embedded chipsets supporting mobility were shipped in 2008. MIMO mobile WiMAX devices being a new entrant into the market the previous year, new deployments in various regions worldwide created a substantial market for MIMO mobile WiMAX terminals and infrastructure equipment. Expansion of existing WiMAX networks and conversion of some existing networks from fixed to mobile WiMAX has also contributed to these numbers.


3. Contrary to belief, WiMAX equipment demand didnot taper and operators continued rolling out infrastructure, sourcing terminals and adding new users using 802.16d – 2004 technology. CPE shipments reached 880000 in 2008.


4. US $145 was the ASP of a mobile WiMAX device during 2008 and by the year end USB dongles were selling at prices between $60-70 for high volumes.


5. Mobile WiMAX devices shipped in 2008 were mainly indoor units.


6. 40% of mobile WiMAX devices had embedded VoIP capabilities and about 7% had other advanced functunalities such as WiFi. USB dongles accounted for 34% of total shipments and were operating almonst all in the 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz spectrums.


7. Korean vendors (Muyngmin, Modacom, Samsung) accounted for 36% of all mobile WiMAX terminal shipments. Taiwanese vendors (Zyxel, Asus, Gemtek, AWB) accounted for 25% of terminals shipped.


8. WiMAX market infrastructure: Alcatel-Lucent, Samsung, Alvarion and Motorola were the key suppliers of WiMAX equipments and 151,000 sectors were shipped at an ASP of $11,500 generating $1bn in revenues.


9. In the Chipsets makers, the market was dominated by Beceem, GCT and Sequans. Intel and Runcom had a stake in the Wave 1 devices capable of MIMO operations and with very limited support of mobility. Samsung’s own chipset solution gained 7% of the market share.


10. In light of recent technical and commercial wins by LTE, WiMAX is not certainly an all conquering solution, but Maravedis predicts that there will be an accumulated 75 million WiMAX subscribers by the end of 2014. Service revenues generated by BWA will reach US$15 billion in 2014 and WiMAX equipment market will reach an annual US$4 Billion in 2014, from over US $2 billion at the end of 2008.


What the report seems to be poiting at it that, though LTE has the backing and auspices of a majority, it is unlikely that LTE would deploy sooner than 2012. That gives WiMAX a 3 years headstart and it could greatly benefit WiMAX since, Proprietary and fixed WiMAX equipment markets will continue to grow organically to meet the needs of WISPs and vertical segments. These 3 years and the market traction would become a strong foothold for WiMAX in the face of competition from LTE as the 4G Tech Standard. WiMAX may not be the winner ultimately, but given its earlier time to market, it will not be the looser as well. The eco-system will thus have both tech standards and rightly so, because there are nuances in WiMAX that LTE cant better and vice versa. In effect, there are parallel markets that could thrive under both these technologies. After all, one technology standard may not be the healthiest thing in the market.


So much so for the analysts, doom-sayers and nay-speakers for WiMAX.;jsessionid=45LJQIUTXXLIYQSNDLPCKH0CJUNN2JVN

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6 Responses

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  1. bissard said, on June 10, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Thanks for this very accurate status on Wimax!
    Wimax is there and for a long time but more as a fixed technology than a pure mobile technology. I don’t think Wimax will be able to compete in the phone / smartphone segments against HSPA or LTE but it is definetely a technology that will spread into CPEs and maybe in the laptop segment. see my post:

  2. rafaellguerrero said, on July 6, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Congratulations for your blog. Do you think LTE will overtake WiMax after 2013?. From the perspective of White book on convergence,mobility should apply, on business sectorial aplications, gathering, segmental dates, onto both, user and companies ERPS (for instnce), what do you think about it?

    Thank you in advance for your patience and for your interesting blog.

    • ronnie05 said, on July 10, 2009 at 7:19 pm

      Hi Rafael

      Apologies for a late reply. With a backing of 80% of the GSM operators across the world and with low CAPEX, LTE will quickly reach its critical size/mass after its roll out in 2012. Yes, i think, it will beat WiMAX on numbers. However, WiMAX has a niche appeal in terms of its additional features (5 bands in WiMAX dedicated to communication, data, security versus 2 in LTE). So WiMAX will find more usage in large enterprises and organizations.

      While i confess not having understood the second part of your question, Mobility will define business sectorial applications and pretty much define and shape it in terms of real time data sharing across nodes. (Beyond this, i will need more specificity in the questions)

      Hope this satisfies your querry. Glad to be talkingto you. Please revert for any and more help.

      • rafaellguerrero said, on July 12, 2009 at 5:18 pm

        Thanks Manas.

        Just you gave me the key answer to the second question, by your argument, “WiMAX has a niche appeal in terms of its additional features (5 bands in WiMAX dedicated to communication, data, security versus 2 in LTE).”

        In fact WiRRSiP future, depends on that basis,focused on ERPs & CRMs over financial companies.

        Thank you again for show me some light just at this key point.


  3. JC said, on January 28, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I to my opinion, wimax is what will change the game in under-developed countries specially africa.
    A 30 miles area, 50 km covers most cities in africa. If the technology is mass deployed in africa with competitive price for intenet et voice, it can take off. The price of cell phone call in places like west africa is charged by the unit, 24 seconds. Most africans, communicate with sms and mms, and that cost almost by the click.
    The question that all the ISPs don’t want to answer is, do they have the will to integrate these 2 technologies, my answer is no, because it is cheap, and every community can have its own without having to spend lots of money to maintain it.

    • Manas Ganguly said, on January 30, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Hi JC

      Thanks for dropping the note – It is difficult not to see the benefits and the connectivity promisse that WiMAX brings to the table – however, the problem is with that a lot of these technologies and platforms are dependent on Industry consortiums and eco-systems. The more, the merrier and wealthier. WiMAX somehow misssed that step – it didnot have powerful industry evangelists really backing it up.

      Thanks for your comments by the way! Appreciaate it very much!

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