WiMAX numbers up, profits down
LTE's lag causing worries, as well
Tuesday brought a good-news, bad-news pairing to those pushing WiMAX as the next-generation wireless broadband standard.
A report released by the market-watchers at Maravedis notes that WiMAX subscriptions during the first quarter of this year were up 75 per cent year-on-year, and now total 3.5 million worldwide users.
That, quite obviously, is the good news.
On the other hand, the report's Executive Summary (PDF) states in rather bald language that "LTE is gaining momentum and will be the technology selected by most mobile operators worldwide moving forward."
Futhermore, Maravedis' CEO Adlane Fellah said in a statement, in reference to the service's average revenue per user, "Global service revenue growth is tapering off as WiMAX operators experience ARPU stagnation and subscriber growth slow down."
The co-author of the report was even more succinct, saying that "2008 was a difficult year for WiMAX and during the first quarter 2009, the slowdown continued as operators watched their wallets closely in order to survive the downturn."
LTE boosters shouldn't feel overly confident, however. Maravedis also reports that 28 per cent of the operators they surveyed call LTE's "technological delays" a challenge to their more-rapid adoption of that standard, while 24 per cent are worried about interoperability among LTE vendors.
Another Maravedis researcher commented on those concerns, noting that "WiMAX suppliers say that they offer a low cost way to deliver network service most needed now: that waiting for LTE is lost opportunity and overkill of network complexity and cost," adding that "An emerging message from operators is the choice of network technology is less important so long as it serves their purpose."
Although LTE may very well be "selected by most mobile operators worldwide moving forward," WiMAX has the distinct advantage of its mere existence. To those who need wireless broadband today, that may be more important than LTE's promise, however attractive that may be. ®
3.5 Million == FAIL
""If significant start-ups chose to hit the market with WiMAX, they have the chance to dislodge the encumbent players, potentially makeing them obsolete. This debate is no longer about technology, it is about how the end user is expected to pay for the merge between broadband and wireless technologies. Interesting times ahead.""
WINAX offers the same capabilities today, as HSPA Mobile Broadband Networks deliver today, comparisons against LTE are wishful thinking - the HSPA networks will/are evolving at least as fast as WIMAX (21Mbps in commercial service in Australia at the moment, 42Mbps by year end)
There are currently around 24 Million Mobile broadband users today, all of whom use the same HSPA networks that 00's of Millions are using their phones on, so there's massive economies of scale advantages there.
In one corner we have WiMAX which is marketed as wireless broadband and is expected to be priced as broadband. i.e. flat rate fees for near unlimited usage, and being wireless, it invites the use of mobile VoIP. Think of all your existing mobile phone usage on your fixed fee broadband bill?
In the other corner, we have LTE, which is just newer and better mobile phone technology and as such, expects to use the existing mobile phone pricing approaches. i.e. pay per use. Think of paying for all your existing broadband usage through your mobil phone bill?
If you were Vodaphone, or any other existing mobile phone company, which business model do you think would appeal to your shareholders? Not your customers, your shareholders.
If significant start-ups chose to hit the market with WiMAX, they have the chance to dislodge the encumbent players, potentially makeing them obsolete. This debate is no longer about technology, it is about how the end user is expected to pay for the merge between broadband and wireless technologies. Interesting times ahead.
"technology backwards UK."
It wasn't competent technology people that bid around £4billion per telco for 3G licences. I once had the pleasure of hearing a conversation at GSMworld after the auction between one of the commercial people (who thought there was nothing wrong with that idea) and some engineers (don't know if they were all the same company). Engineers to idiot: "£4billion. How long will it take you to recoup that in service charges, call charges, data charges." Idiot to engineers: "That's not the point".
That *is* exactly the point.
Our UK "industry leaders" have a track record of this kind of insanity. GEC/Marconi largely ignored the world of high tech comms till they realised they'd missed the boat, consequently they paid way over the odds for Fore and Raltec, which turned out to have been a big mistake and was a big part of what brought GEC down. Techies didn't make that decision, mergers and acquisitions consultants in the City (Gordon Brown's "masters of the Universe", right) did.
So don't blame numerate techies.