Mobile Broadband: Looking Good

Posted by Sam Churchill on

I just want you to know that even though you tried to terminate me, revenge is not an idea we promote on my planet. — Toy Story

It’s Big Picture Week at Dailywireless. A number of market researchers and industry organizations are crunching the 2008 industry numbers this week and guessing what the broadband wireless market will look like in 2009 (and beyond).

Wireless broadband technology will be able to withstand the current economic downturn says the WiMAX Forum. They estimate at least 100 more operators will launch commercial services this year.

The Forum says WiMAX now covers 430 million people (POPS), globally and are on a path to nearly double to 800 million people by end of 2010 and explode to 18 million by 2012. In-Stat forecasts LTE will have 23 million subscribers by 2013, but nearly 82 million mobile PCs with WiMax will ship in 2013.

The forum expects for WiMAX to continue to capitalize on its head start on LTE. Still, Dr. Mohammad Shakouri, the forum’s VP of marketing, said, “Due to the financial situation, the growth rate of deployments will slow down. Everyone is watching their cash.”

Shakouri questions the willingness of companies to invest in LTE because of the current economic downturn, reports RCR Wireless. He said WiMAX does not face this issue because investments have already been made in the technology.

Shakouri is hopeful that money set aside for broadband deployments in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act can help jump start WiMAX operators.

Congress has set aside $7.2 billion for telecom-related programs, with $6.39 billion to be doled out in grants and loans to promote broadband in rural areas that don’t have access to the technology or are underserved.

So far, Mobile WiMAX is being offered in just two cities, Baltimore and Portland, Ore. On March 5th, Clearwire will announce which cities will be added next in the United States. Another nine cities are expected to roll out this year.

According to research firm In-Stat, WiMAX will continue to outpace LTE over the next few years and the technologies will take different paths. Verizon Wireless is expected to launch LTE commercially sometime next year but most operators will wait until 2011 or 2012.

Shiv Bakhshi, an IDC analyst, believes WiMAX and LTE will serve different segments of the market. Bakhshi said WiMAX will be a strong player in developing countries. However, the technology will have trouble competing in developed countries because of other broadband technology that is already in place and the momentum LTE has gained among the top wireless providers. Bakhshi said WiMAX in developed countries will serve niche markets. IDC believes the mobile industry is likely to fare the current global economic downturn better than many other industries.

Critics have attacked municipal Internet projects, calling them taxpayer-sapping money-losers and ventures better served by the private sector, says the Wall Street Journal. But if President Barack Obama is serious about wiring rural America with high-speed Web access, these efforts, like one in central Vermont profiled by the WSJ, will play a key role.

Meanwhile, the WiMAX forum says there will be 100 certified products on the market this year, growing to 1,000 by 2011. The forum also expects growth to continue in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa.

“We don’t see one region that is dominant in regard to growth,” Shakouri said. “We see growth happening in all these regions.”

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, March 2nd, 2009 at 10:23 am .

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