Informa Telecoms & Media is forecasting one billion HSPA subscribers and 103 million WiMAX subscribers by 2013, world-wide. Of course that’s somewhat comparing apples to oranges. HSPA is a 3G cellular technology. It usually tops out between 500-750kbps, while WiMAX might be considered a “4G” technology, and is expected to deliver 2 Mbps or more.
LTE, cellular’s “4G” technology, will likely deliver similar speeds to Mobile WiMAX, but it will be 2010 before it’s ready. It may be 5 years (around 2013) before LTE is commercially available in big cities.
WiMAX supporters include Sprint Nextel, Comcast, Time-Warner, and Google. Intel will embed WiMAX in notebooks and handhelds.
“In many major emerging markets all the pieces are falling into place for WiMAX, including availability of spectrum, huge pent-up demand for broadband, certification of Mobile WiMAX equipment, and the arrival of new lower-cost devices such as ultra-portable notebooks and netbooks,” says Mike Roberts, Informa Telecoms & Media principal analyst. “For example our forecasts show that WiMAX will account for 24 percent of India’s total broadband subscribers by 2013, up from seven percent in 2008.”
Most observers believe WiMAX has a 2-3 year lead over LTE.
NTT DoCoMo says it can do 250 Mbit/s on an LTE downlink. NTT has been testing LTE, which it calls Super 3G, since February 2008, in a field trial using a real wireless environment outside its research and development labs in Yokosuka, Japan. Unstrung says DoCoMo has set the most aggressive timeline for commercial deployment, which is planned for 2010.
One of the few near certainties is that over the next five years, Verizon Wireless is going to spend, spend, spend on LTE – much the same way Sprint Nextel has been spending to get WiMax off the ground. Within 18 months, Sprint will have pretty decent WiMax coverage in a lot of U.S. cities through Clearwire, together with handover to CDMA 1X EVDO. For its part, AT&T has a software-based HSPA roadmap to 14.4-Mbit/s downlink speeds and an HSPA Evolution roadmap that goes way beyond that. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless is stuck at 3.1-Mbit/s downlink speeds with EVDO Rev. A, with nowhere else to go except LTE. Verizon Wireless has to throw the kitchen sink at LTE to remain competitive in this arms race – and soon. There is no alternative.
The mobile phone market will be worth $200 billion in 2013, says Informa, with emerging markets representing a 60% share. There were 3.4 billion GSM/HSPA wireless subscriptions globally at the end of third quarter 2008, capturing an 88.5% share of market, according to Informa Telecoms & Media. In 2010, over 200 million mobile phones will ship with WiFi, out of the 1.4 billion total.
How’s that for a femtocell infrastructure.
Related DailyWireless articles include: Bare Knuckles in Barcelona: LTE Vrs WiMAX, AT&T: It’s LTE, Verizon: It’s LTE, Sprint: It’s WiMAX, Ericsson: Wi-Fi is Dead, Dead, Dead, Mobile World Conference Announcements, WiMAX Uncloaks FDD, NTT “Super 3G”, Xohm “Partners”?, T-Mobile: $10B in 3 Years, Nokia Siemens: LTE Works, and XOHM Live?.