It’s true. I can’t believe it, it’s true! — Left Behind
The trillion dollar global telecommunications business is getting a global makeover as WiMAX rolls out. While the impact is still tiny, mobile WiMAX technology (802.16e), is fully operational in parts of South Korea and the United States. As nationwide Mobile WiMAX services are launched, war between cellular carriers and WiMAX upstarts seems imminent. Here’s a brief situation report.
Residents in three Japanese cities will get free access to a trial WiMax service that goes into operation later this month, reports PC World.
It will be one of the most closely watched Mobile WiMAX launches in the world.
That’s because there’s great speculation whether or not WiMAX can make an impact in the 2nd largest economy in the world, a country dominated by the most powerful 3G operators in the world, a country where broadband penetration is already among the highest in the world.
UQ, a joint venture led by KDDI and Intel, won one of the two 2.5GHz licenses awarded last year. The other license went to Willcom, which operates the country’s PHS network for low cost voice, and is likely to use its license mainly for that.
The UQ Communications venture was formed to bid for the 30MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum. It consists of KDDI, Intel Capital, East Japan Railway Company, Kyocera, Daiwa Securities Group and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. The group plans to spend $1.3bn on its network and to achieve near-national coverage in five years.
As part of the trial, UQ will send each registered user a WiMax card that can plug into a laptop, enabling them to access the service. Users who cancel the service will have to return the cards to the operator. Beceem Communications says its 65nm single chip Mobile WiMAX solution is used in a number of the devices adopted by UQ Communications.
- Japan has 110 million mobile subscribers with a 86% penetration rate (December 2008). The United States has 262 million mobile subscribers with a wireless penetration of 84%.
- Japanese cellular operator E-mobile (wikipedia), using HSPA, offers netbook PCs at little or no cost to customers signing up for a year or more of service. Cellular market leader NTT DoCoMo (wikipedia) also recently announced its own HSPA flat-rate plan for PC users while number three player Softbank (wikipedia), is also planning to start its own flat-rate service by leasing capacity on the E-mobile network. KDDI (wikipedia) provides CDMA-based Rev A data services. NTT DoCoMo, the first mobile operator anywhere to offer 3G, is pushing LTE.
NTT Communications says it will offer Wi-Fi service on high speed rail between Tokyo and Osaka starting in March 2009. The service will be an extension of the company’s HotSpot service, which already offers access in shops, restaurants, hotels and other locations across Japan.
The service was delayed due to late arrival of their new N700-type trains that offer the fastest rail link between Japan’s two biggest cities of Tokyo and Osaka. The 2M bps service will be provided by a “leaky coax” — a wire traveling alongside the bullet train track. At the same time, NTT will also launch access in waiting lounges on all 17 stations along the route. The service will cost from ¥500 per day to ¥1,680 (US$5.73 to $19.25) for a monthly subscription.
Taiwan’s nationwide WiMAX network targets 8 million users, with the goal of making Taiwan one of the world’s top five countries for mobile applications. But the global economic crisis has taken a bite out of plans to roll out WiMax in Taiwan. Six companies won licenses to operate WiMAX services in 2007 but Far EasTone Telecom, the leader, recently decided to delay the WiMAX launch until the second half of 2009. Intel has invested $500M in the M-Taiwan (WiMAX) program.
Intel Capital also is investing 386 M Taiwan dollars (11.5 million U.S. dollars) in the Taiwanese provider VMAX to deploy the first mobile network in Taiwan, scheduled for the first half of 2009.
Speaking of trains, Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT), Corning and ZyXEL are developing a Mobile WiMAX system for their high speed train.
- In South Korea, KT, which controls more than 90 percent of the fixed-line telephony market and about 44 percent of the broadband sector, had gathered about 206,000 customers for WiBro by the end of June, 2008, while SK Telecom’s presence is comparatively miniscule with around 2,000 subscribers.
- India is slated to become the largest WiMAX market in the Asia-Pacific by 2013, says research firm Strategy Analytics. They predict India’s WiMAX subscriber base will hit 14 million by 2013. India’s 2.6 GHz auction will likely happen in the first half of ’09. Hong Kong recently finished its 2.6 GHz auction.
- Cisco’s Mobile WiMAX Solution is being implemented in Soviet Georgia and Kazakhstan. Georgian mobile operator MagtiCom launched its Mobile WiMAX services using the end-to-end Cisco Broadband Wireless Solution while AsiaBell launched its broadband Mobile WiMAX service in central Kazakhstan. Scartel, Russia’s first provider of high-speed wireless Internet, offers access under the Yota brand and powered by Cisco’s latest mobility technologies.
- Spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band is coming up for grabs throughout Europe. As much as 140 megahertz of the spectrum (2×70MHz) will be allocated for FDD services like LTE and another 50 megahertz for the unpaired TDD band that will most likely be used for WiMAX services. To date, Norway and Sweden have auctioned spectrum while Netherlands, Germany, Austria and the UK have auctions planned.
- As far as Mobile WiMAX in the United States goes, ThinkEquity believes Clearwire will launch in nine markets this year. Clearwire, which currently offers Mobile WiMAX in Portland, Oregon, has hinted it will offer WiMax service in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Chicago (See Unstrung: Clearwire Will Launch Nine in ’09).
Sprint’s Xohm branded Mobile WiMAX launched in Baltimore last October. Sprint is expected to use Samsung WiMAX gear in New York and Dallas/Ft Worth, along with Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Providence, Rhode Island. A Time Warner Cable WiMax deployment in Dallas is also among the ’09 possibilities. That’s ten.
DSL has 65% of that number while cable modem users have a 22% share. FTTx is just under 11% of the global market. The WiMAX Forum projects more than 133 million WiMAX users globally by 2012.
Intel says Mobile WiMAX is the most cost/effective way to deliver broadband. Cellular operators say LTE will prevail as the defacto wireless broadband solution.
The broadband wireless war has begun.
Related DailyWireless stories include; Hong Kong 2.5 GHz Auction Winners, Tranzeo: Go for Indonesia WiMAX, WiMax: East Meets West, India’s 3g/4G Auctions: Late January, Motorola Testing LTE in UK, WiBro Evolution: Would You Believe 149Mbps?, Indian WiMAX Expands, M-Taiwan: To Max or Not? , Intel: $500M for M-Taiwan, European 2.5 GHz Auctions & the Global Market, Motorola Mobile WiMAX in Thailand, WiMAX Roundup, Australia Unwired, Intel: $500M for M-Taiwan, Alcatel-Lucent Wins a Couple, Tata WiMAXing 15 Cities in India, KDDI Tight with Airspan Mobile WiMAX, Alvarion: Wave 2, WiMAX World 2007, Urban WiMAX in the UK, Europe Auctions 3.5 GHz, Italy Auctions WiMAX Spectrum, WiMAX Uncloaks FDD,WiMAX Deployment Maps, Urban WiMAX in the UK, BT’s European WiMAX Plan, Nokia WiMAX: UK Tough, U.S. Litigious, Fixed Vrs Mobile WiMAX in UK?, UK Unwires 12 Cities, UK to Auction 215 MHz – for Everything, Towerstream Switches to Alvarion 3.65 GHz, Free 3.65GHz Mapping Service, Bill to Free 2155-2180 Mhz, MuniFi Roundup and OFCOM’s Global Sit Rep.