WiMAX Deployments Go Global with 519 in 146 Countries
In spite of the financial downturn which has impacted telecom investments, according to Informa Telecoms & Media wireless broadband Internet deployments based upon WiMAX have reached 519 in 146 countries, including 95 WiMAX networks deployed by 2G mobile operators. Of the 519 WiMAX deployments, 112 were added in 2009. The WiMAX ecosystem advanced certification activity with 86 products receiving WiMAX Forum Certified status this year.
On the regulatory front, FDD WiMAX was accepted into the IMT-2000 family of standards and more than 50 companies endorsed the IEEE 802.16m IMT-Advanced candidate proposal for a future-proof roadmap.
To support IMT-Advanced and the WiMAX Forum evolution of its technology roadmap, leading suppliers and operators this year expressed their commitment to build and trial WiMAX Release 2 based on the IEEE 802.16m standard. These ecosystem backers included Alvarion, Beceem, Cisco, Clearwire, Huawei, Intel, KT, Motorola, Samsung, Sequans, UQC, Yota and ZTE. The WiMAX Forum also announced that in 2010 it will finalize its WiMAX Release 2 specification in parallel with IEEE 802.16m and IMT-Advanced, ensuring that WiMAX Release 2 networks and devices will remain backward compatible with legacy WiMAX Release 1 based on IEEE 802.16e.
"Despite the global economy, WiMAX is going strong in 2009," said Ron Resnick, president and chairman of the WiMAX Forum. "The WiMAX Forum membership has continued to bring WiMAX to new markets, certify devices and keep the spirit of delivering mobile Internet services to people throughout the world. We expect 2010 to bring new innovations to the WiMAX ecosystem with completion of the IEEE 802.16m standard, commercialization of the global roaming program and new WiMAX Forum programs to help bring certified devices to retail channels faster."
WiMAX Forum Member News Highlights
In addition to an increase in the number of networks tracked by WiMAX Forum, many of the already established WiMAX networks continue to rapidly expand. One example includes Yota, which reached 250,000 active commercial users on its Russian network and has passed the breakeven point, thanks to more than 2,300 subscribers added per day to its WiMAX network. In April 2009, 65 product models from six vendors (Acer, Asus, Lenovo, MSI, Samsung, Toshiba) with WiMAX embedded chipsets were introduced to the Russian market. In 2010, Yota expects to add a new GSM + Mobile WiMAX phone supporting VoIP over WiMAX.
Further, Clearwire has reached more than 555,000 subscribers; its network covers more than 30 million consumers in 34 markets and has an ARPU of nearly $40. Malaysia's Packet One Networks, which celebrated its first anniversary of operations this year, has reached 130,000 subscribers. KT covers more than half of the Korean population, and UQ Communications now covers more than half of Japan's population, offering services to consumers via more than 20 MVNO partners. Imagine launched its 4G Mobile WiMAX network deployment to cover Ireland, which will also reduce the average cost of broadband and phone services by as much as 50 percent. Freedom4 received the green light to offer fully mobile WiMAX services in the UK using its nationwide 3.6GHz spectrum, after regulator Ofcom granted the operator a license variation. For more information on WiMAX deployments, please visit http://www.wimaxmaps.org.
Equipment vendors have also seen tremendous growth in 2009. Motorola recently announced it shipped its 10,000th WiMAX Access Point and one millionth WiMAX CPE. In 2008, Huawei achieved a 200 percent increase in WiMAX revenue and expects to achieve that same level of growth by the close of 2009. Alvarion now supplies more than 260 commercial network deployments in more than 100 countries. Intel launched notebooks with its embedded Wi-Fi/WiMAX minicard solution in the U.S., Russia and Japan; these were embedded into 80 notebook models from almost a dozen of the world's leading PC manufacturers. Those manufacturers already have a solid pipeline of new models underway incorporating Intel's next generation Kilmer Peak module with tri-band radio support for global WiMAX networks. Finally, Beceem Communications announced more than three million 4G WiMAX terminal chipset shipments in 2009 alone.
"In the tough economic climate of 2009, WiMAX continued to make significant strides," said Daryl Schoolar, principal analyst, wireless infrastructure at Current Analysis. "Operators such as Packet One, Yota, and Clearwire continued to expand their network footprints. Device form factors continued to improve, with more functionality and eye-pleasing packaging. I expect in 2010 not only will network deployment stories turn into subscriber stories, but we will see true commercial WiMAX roaming between operators supported by multi-band devices."
A Look Ahead at 2010
The WiMAX Forum has several initiatives planned for 2010 to continue exponential WiMAX adoption, including:
- An updated WiMAX Forum subscriber and POPs forecast in early 2010
- Certification of Mobile WiMAX 2.3 GHz products
- Launch of the Open Retail Certification Program
- Completion of the WiMAX Forum Release 2 specs based on the new IEEE standard 802.16m
- Commercialization and deployment of the WiMAX Forum global roaming program
- Three WiMAX Forum Congress Series Events, including Asia Congress in April, Global Congress in June and Americas Congress in December 2010
- New bloggers and expanded features on www.WiMAXTimes.com