Report downplays WiMax impact

12 Jul 2004

By the end of 2009 there will be only around seven million subscribers worldwide using WiMax, and most of these will be in Europe and Asia, a new report has found.

The report, entitled Untethering Broadband: WiMax, 802.20 and Others, published by research firm Parks Associates, says that the initial explosion of WiMax as a communications platform is likely to be delayed by testing of new equipment and networks before businesses and home users adopt the technology.

WiMax’s fixed flavour, the standard 802.16REVd, was only approved by the industry last month as a fixed broadband wireless solution. WiMax is radio technology that promises two-way internet access at several megabits per second, with ranges of several miles. Backers of the technology believe it can challenge DSL and cable broadband services because it offers similar speeds but costs carriers less to set up, since installation doesn’t require roads to be torn up. It is believed that the technology can provide broadband access speeds of around 20Mbps over a 30-mile distance.

“This standard is exciting news for the industry,” said Michael Cai, senior analyst at Parks Associates. “However, interoperability test and certification process both take time and on average carriers spend six months trialling new equipment, and therefore the market is unlikely to see volume commercial deployment until 2006.

“Residential market deployments of 802.16 REVd are likely to occur first in Europe and Asia, with Latin America and North America following their lead. Most of the deployments in the developed world will be in the underserved markets, fuelled by government mandates on wide broadband availability, and developing countries with poor wireline network infrastructure will use 802.16REVd for both voice and data.”

By John Kennedy