The global Broadband Wireless Access (BWA)/ WiMAX subscriber base increased by more than 200,000 in the first quarter of 2008, reaching nearly 2 million (1.98M ) subscribers worldwide, according to Montreal based market research and analysis firm Maravedis. Service revenue increased more than 20% to $366.2M.
Author’s Note: It is not clear how many of these BWA deployments were WiMAX Forum compliant vs WiMAX ready or proprietary BWA.
The quarterly report from Maravedis affiliate WiMAXCounts.com+ is available for purchase at:
+ WiMAX Counts is a WiMAX Operator Deployment and Tracking service. According to Maravedis, “WiMAXCounts is a unique web-based service that tracks WiMAX Operator deployments and provides detailed information on the worldwide WiMAX ecosystem. Maravedis launched the service in May 2007 covering 100 WiMAX Operator profiles across 36 countries. Today we are proud to announce that WiMAX Counts currently profiles over 260 Operators across 90 countries.”
From Q4 2007 to Q1 2008, subscriber quarter-to-quarter growth was 19%; basically the same quarterly growth trend since Q1 2007. With a residential monthly ARPU of US$ 48.08 and business ARPU of $146.02, this subscriber base generated estimated quarterly revenues of US$366.22 millions, an increase of 20% with respect to the previous quarter.
There continues to be many more residential subscribers than business subscribers, despite operator tendency to focus on business offerings. 65% of the subscriber base is residential versus 35% business. However, the typical customer mix among operators is 52% business and 48% residential (this split did not change from the previous quarter). North America was the region with the highest residential customer base with 78% residential and 22% business.
To our surprise, Clearwire was by far the largest WiMAX network operator with an estimated 443,000 subscribers in the United States at the end of Q1 2008. (Clearwire is now looking to partner with wireless telcos to provide WiMAX service in Europe). Korea Telecom was a distance second, with their WiBro deployments in South Korea. Unwired, Irish Broadband, and Banda round out the top 5 WiMAX operators in terms of subscribers. Latin and Central America recorded 35 WiMAX deployments across 14 countries and 261,000 subscribers at the end of 1Q08,
Motorola remains the leader in BWA/WiMAX equipment deployed for both CPEs and Base Stations (but again, we don’t know how much is WiMAX compliant vs proprietary, e.g. the hugely popular Canopy BWA system). See Addendum below.
The most popular WiMAX spectrum is 3.3 –3.8GHz, with 63% of deployments in that frequency band in 1Q08, compared to 70% of the operators deploying in this band during 4Q07. Cintia Garza, co-author of the WiMAXCounts Quarterly Report, explained that this does not mean there was a drop in the use of the 3.5GHz band. Rather there has been an increase in deployments in the 2.5GHz band and auctions in 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz, mainly in Europe, during the quarter. "I would say the 2.5GHz band is generating a lot of interest around the world for mobile deployments. The lower the frequency band, the better the propagation characteristics," Garza said.
Author’s Note: Clearwire-Sprint plan all their WiMAX deployments in the 2.5GHz band.
The latest global BWA/WiMAX Licensed Spectrum Utilization Status:
65% in commercial deployment
10% idle spectrum
13 % in trials
9% commercial service (launch) pending
3% lost spectrum (assume NOT available for use)
Maravedis Note: There were various operators that planned to launch during the first quarter of 2008 and postponed their commercial launch for later this year, such as Global Mobile (Taiwan), which plans to launch in early 2009 and Sprint Nextel, which initially planned for a commercial launch of Xohm in April this year.
The report found that of the 264 network operators tracked, approximately 50% of them are providing only high-speed Internet services. The remaining BWA/WiMAX carriers are offering additional value added services, such as VoIP, video or VPN. Maravedis expects the majority of these carriers will offer one or more additional services in the next two or three years. Robert Syputa, Maravedis partner and senior analyst said the company expects double/triple play to become the norm in the next two years.
“Even with an increase of more than 19% in WiMAX subscribers in the first quarter of 2008, operators are still waiting for the tipping point that will lead to acceleration of WiMAX adoption and deployments,” said Adlane Fellah, CEO and founder of Maravedis, in a statement. “The key factors mainly center on certification of mobile WiMAX equipment, a reduction in CPE pricing and the emergence of a device ecosystem.”
Cintia Garza, stated: “Many operators have held back their network expansion pending the mobile WiMAX 802.16e equipment certification, which was announced in June 2008. Mobile WiMAX is a key enabler of a wider range of value-added services and product flexibility.”
Other contact: Please email me at email@example.com if you’d like my assessment of the WiMAX market and critical unresolved issues.
Here’s an article that sheds light on the question of Proprietary BWA vs WiMAX deployments:
Clearwire the big kahuna in broadband wireless
"Of the 1.988 million broadband wireless subscribers in the world, more than half of which are on a network using a proprietary broadband wireless network such as Motorola’s NextNet or Canopy or Alvarion or Aperto Networks’ pre-WiMAX kits. Of the 602,000 customers on WiMAX gear, 509,000 have fixed WiMAX service (networks based on the IEEE 802.16d standard), while only 193,000 are using a true mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e) network, and of those, the vast majority, 145,000, are on Korea Telecom’s WiBro network, which gained certification under the WiMAX Forum this year."
Here’s the latest from Robert Sypuda VP of Maravedis:
Harmonization of WiMAX and LTE makes good sense for the development of the industry. Participants from both the WiMAX and LTE camp and IEEE and ETSI 3GPP standards organizations have recognized the need to collaborate on development of communications. Vodafone is among operators that have called for merging of WiMAX and LTE because this will reduce conflicts and costs for the industry. The long-term trends in technology, regulation, ecosystem consolidation and globalization contribute to the rationale that wireless systems should strive to achieve common air interfaces where feasible. The primary obstacle to achieving harmonization of WiMAX and LTE is simply the commercial self-interests that prevent a common push forward.
Intel’s CEO, Paul Otellini, and Sean Maloney, head of sales and marketing, have called for harmonization between WiMAX and LTE, pointing out the goals of unified broadband communications and common use of technologies. Maloney came close to substantiating our forecast that Intel will eventually provide combined support regardless of whether the standards groups achieve official harmonization in remarks about providing a multi-mode WiMAX plus LTE chipset: "We don’t have any plans to do that yet," added Mr. Maloney. "It would certainly be a nice long term goal."