The large-scale adoption of WiMAX in the US still faces many hurdles, according to research firm Maravedis, which has also concluded that LTE will be dominant in the country by 2012.
The research firm, which specialises in analysing the WiMAX industry, reckons that WiMAX has a two-year head-start on LTE in the US and that Sprint Nextel must make its WiMAX plans clear soon if the industry is to capitalise on this time-to-market advantage.
The 2006 auction of valuable AWS spectrum has opened up the opportunity for operators to expand mobile voice and 3G and Maravedis predicts that AWS licence holders will use the spectrum not for WiMAX but for LTE, beginning in 2010.
In a maturing broadband market, where broadband penetration amongst internet users is 85 per cent and 94 per cent amongst business users, mobile broadband is "a market differentiator" says Maravedis. "Carriers increasingly must look for new niches to serve, such as low density areas," the firm concludes.
The comments come in the first edition of "Opportunities and Challenges for Broadband Wireless and WiMAX in the USA", published last week.
While Sprint and Clearwire represent the clearest mobile WiMAX opportunities in the country, there are broader fixed and mobile opportunities in the short term that both licensed and unlicensed WISPs can exploit, thereby building credibility for the WiMAX business case.
Non-Sprint WiMAX subscribers will exceed 10 million by 2012, up from a half-million at theend of 2007, predicts Maravedis, arguing that business-to-business service niches will be a real growth market in the next three years.
Report co-author Tim Sanders also predicts that there will be opportunities for WiMAX in the 700MHz band, but not before 2010. "There's little product profile for WiMAX with 700MHz now," said Sanders, "but in time there [will be] because of the [superior] propagation characteristics of 700MHz."
Technical challenges for WiMAX in the US remain, says Maravedis, including: Achieving seamless interoperability in real world deployments before 2009; development of a proper device ecosystem and application platforms; seamless handoff between mobile WiMAX base stations; and establishing a proper customer-value proposition for Xohm applications to mitigate the loss of device subsidies.
1. With take rate of 85% and 94% of broadband in the U.S. consumer and business segment respectively, the primary opportunity for fixed multipoint WiMax to enter the market is "low density areas", ie; the same rural markets mom & pop WISP's have been serving the past 10 years with 802.16. The indoor WiMax modem is a non-starter in most major U.S. markets.
2. Mobile WiMax can be a differentiator but the segments with the greatest growth may not be the mobile consumer market WiMax supporters so often use to hype the technology. The mobile WiMax opportunity may develop into a collection of narrow vertical market business opportunities. This isn't necessarily bad but its not the same model or valuation associated with serving the mass market.
3. WiMax could arrive for UHF in 2010 and once the auction is complete vendors will have an affluent customer and a known spectrum footprint to build toward. As little commercial WiMax products exists today for MDS and vendors delay product due to Sprint turbulence and footprint fragmentation, MDS may not arrive that much ahead of UHF WiMax.
Isn't it interesting that when the stock is rising none of the negative boys or girls come out to play, when the trend is downward, they seem to come out of the woodwork and delight in the supposed collapse of Sprint and the rest of the free world.
Ted, I would agree with your observation with one additional item, Broadway and those of his ilk (poor bastards) also relish the idea of bashing anyone who has any positive feedback on Sprint. It is their stock and trade. Sad but true.