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WiMAX Continues to Gain Worldwide Momentum

Tech On, June 17, 2009

By Rachel Loke

WiMAX deployments cover more than 430 million point of presences (POP) worldwide, and are forecast to reach 800 million POPs by the end of 2010, according to WiMAX Forum's research. "WiMAX is here now and is already generating revenues for customers," said Eric Starnes, vice president of sales for Motorola's Home & Networks Mobility in Asia, at the WiMAX Forum Congress Asia held in April in Singapore. "Today, WiMAX is being widely adopted by both traditional ISPs to enter the wireless space, and new entrants into the wireless market. LTE, on the other hand, has seen support from large cellular operators since the 3GPP nature of the technology allows operators to leverage on their investments in the back office, such as through roaming agreements."

According to data from the WiMAX Forum, there were 468 WiMAX deployments in 139 countries as of March 2009. A year earlier, the number was almost half: only 260 deployments in 110 countries. The WiMAX Forum had certified a total of 82 products by the end of 2008, and expects to certify 180 new products in 2009.

In his presentation, "Strategies and Evolution on WiMAX CPE Development", Alex Ke, senior manager of System Engineering Division at Accton Wireless Broadband Corp, said: "WiMAX can deliver low-cost mobile wireless VoIP and mobile broadband services to markets in emerging countries. This increasing demand for mobile devices is fuelling the WiMAX market growth. WiMAX also provides significant cost savings for operators/carriers, who can install fewer base stations to compete against one another. This translates into market opportunity for growing average revenue per user (ARPU) in future."

Motorola's Starnes noted: "WiMAX has evolved into a very successful business model for operators in developing markets. We are seeing a lot of take-ups in Southeast Asia in which WiMAX is capable of fulfilling the basic connectivity requirements. We also have successes in developed markets such as the US." Motorola provides WiMAX devices and infrastructure for the mobile Internet service "Clear" launched earlier this year in Portland, the US.

Trial Services
Meanwhile, Malaysia will be the first country outside the US to have an ecosystem that provides a converged mobile Internet service throughout the country using YTL e-Solutions' Berhad (YTLE) WiMAX technology. Samsung Electronics will be providing the WiMAX network solution including base stations, end-to-end IP multimedia service solutions and a range of mobile Internet devices. Under the supply contract, Samsung will also supply the WiMAX-enabled handsets.

Samsung showcased its NC10 mini notebook with embedded WiMAX, which allows users to access WiMAX without need for the cumbersome USB dongle. Also highlighted at the Samsung booth was the U-RAS flexible base station, which has received favorable responses from the market due to its separated design of the radio and digital unit, making it most suitable for flexible mobile WiMAX network deployment.

Huawei to Strengthen Effort
Having secured 41 commercial WiMAX 802.16e contracts worldwide, Huawei Technologies claims that its new WiMAX solutions will enable operators to maximize the usage of their existing network resources, and to operate WiMAX network flexibly to achieve a 30% reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO).

Huawei has stepped up its efforts to strengthen the progress of the interoperability tests with partners including chipset and terminal vendors. In addition to its interoperability test (IOT) centers in Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Beijing (newly opened), Huawei plans to open its next IOT lab in Taiwan this year.

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