WiMAX & LTE: Policy Vs Pragmatism

According to ABI Research, mobile operators could be writing checks for $1 billion in 2011 for LTE deployments. “LTE base stations could well climb to 600,000 by 2015,” says ABI.

If WiMAX carriers swing behind 802.16m, the number of base stations could surpass 69,000 in 2015, says ABI. Irrespective of the support given to 802.16m, 802.1616e operators are expected to add 90,000 base stations between now and 2015.

“The ‘opportunity door’ has not shut on 802.16m,” comments research director Philip Solis. “It is a positive sign that UQ Communications (Japan) has established a trial 802.16m test-bed. Also Samsung has announced that it will be making 802.16m equipment commercially available starting in 3Q-2011.

By 2015, WCDMA population coverage will have grown to 4.6 billion. Even in developing markets, there is considerable interest in upgrading base-stations to support 3.5G data rates.

Taiwan remains a key WiMAX player, says Basharat Ashai, Market Analyst, for Maravedis. The Taiwanese government has backed WiMAX technology since its early days. The Mobile Taiwan project is aimed at ensuring people all over the country, including those living in remote mountain villages and offshore islands, have wireless Internet access. WiMAX is an important part of this program.

Five of Taiwan’s licensed WiMAX operatorsGlobal Mobile, First International Telecom (Fitel), Vmax Telecom, Tatung Telecom and Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET) are rolling out WiMAX services in Taiwan.

Global Mobile, Vmax and FITEL won licenses for northern Taiwan, while Far EasTone, Tatung and Vastar Cable TV System won licenses for the south. VMax expected 40,000 subscribers by end-2010, and 80,000 in 2011. VMax started its WiMax network on Jan. 26, 2010, covering 85% of Taipei City.

The WiMAX market should have already reached maturity in Taiwan after the six licenses were issued for rollout in 2007, but this has not been the case.

The combined WiMAX subscriber base of these 6 operators stood at just 22,935 as of the end of Q3 2010. The government is now trying its best to reassure investors and the public that there is a long-term future for WiMAX in Taiwan.

In October 2010 the Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs approved a WiMAX development plan that will see the government invest an estimated US$215 million in developing the country’s WiMAX infrastructure over the next three years. Government agencies will begin to adopt WiMAX technology for various applications, including disaster relief, transportation regulation and police patrols, as well as for educational and medical uses in remote areas.

Intel is feeling political pressure to continue its support to WiMAX from Taiwanese authorities.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini recently met with the president, Ma Ying-jeou, to give his assurances that Intel will continue to support WiMAX in Taiwan. The Taiwanese government feared that Intel was withdrawing its support for WiMAX after the company closed its Taiwan WiMAX Program Office in June of this year, notes Basharat Ashai.

Even if some Taiwanese WiMAX license holders have started to focus on LTE, the fact is that none has received approval from the government to migrate to LTE. The Taiwanese regulator has stated that it will have to consult with other government agencies before allowing WiMAX licensees to migrate.

The WiMAX Forum hopes that Clear, in the United States, UQ in Japan, KT in South Korea, VMAX in Taiwan and Packet One of Indonesia, among others, will hang in there and that India will come around.

It may be an uphill battle.

Qualcomm could exit its Indian broadband wireless operation by as soon as the second half of 2011, by which time it expects its TD-LTE network to be ready to launch, reports Light Reading. Qualcomm has already held talks with some of India’s major mobile operators about selling their assets with the provision that the operator uses TD-LTE technology.

India’s top mobile firm, Bharti Airtel, No. 2 Reliance Communications, Vodafone, Tata Teleservices, and Idea Cellular spent a combined $23 billion for licenses in recent 3G and 4G spectrum auctions (auction results) in the world’s fastest-growing cellular market.

The Indian telecommunications industry includes some 706 Million telephone (landlines and mobile) subscribers with 670 Million mobile phone connections as of Aug 2010. Virtually none are yet 3G. it is projected that India will have 1.2 billion mobile subscribers by 2013.

Related Dailywireless articles include; WiMAX: Good News, Bad News, Qualcomm India: For Sale?, Qualcomm Gets Indian Partners, Vendors Scramble for Indian Backhaul, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, Yota: Planetary LTE Swap, Yota Dumps WiMAX, WiMAX Forum: Not Dead Yet, WiMAX Forum: In Trouble?, Russian WiMAX, Battle for Britain, European 2.5 GHz Auctions & the Global Market, BT’s European WiMAX Plan, WiMAX Roundup, Australia Unwired, India 2nd Largest Mobile Market, Intel: $500M for M-Taiwan, AT&T: More Transpacific Cable, Satphones: Merger Ahead?, Malaysian WiMAX: Now or Never, WiMAX Auctions: NZ & Hong Kong, and Cellular Penetration: Half the World.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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