WiMAX's Future Is in Emerging Markets

13 thoughts on “WiMAX's Future Is in Emerging Markets”

  1. Interesting observation about wimax. Although I’m still unlearned about the exact technical specifications of wimax, as far as emerging and sub-emerging markets, it will make even less headway then the articles hopes.

    Mobile telecom is growing due to commodity hardware with even less than reliable, commoditized services. Price definitely comes before function.

    Wimax is going to need a miracle to beat commodity copper laid out haphazardly and cheaply by the telcoms with $10/month ADSL service with a $40 chinese made wifi router. For most, this is “good enough”

    1. The whole point of WiMAX is commoditized hardware . . ! That is the reason Ericsson never wanted to touch it — no way to charge the “carrier grade” premium they are accustomed to with so much competition (including from non-traditional vendors like Cisco and Intel) right out the door.

  2. Good one Om,
    I believe both will stay . But LTE is probably stay behind for long time. Folks predicted early on WiMax and burned cash. But now the market is ripe. Folks are ready to buy phones with WiMax ( Thanks to iPhone).
    There are WiMax handset available from HTC , NOKIA . LTE compatible handsets are not ready at this point. Hopefully manufacturing these handsets is not a big issue. But overall , WiMax is spreading faster in US cities. Its already available in Baltimore, Vegas, Atlanta. I don’t see LTE being available in next six months for any US city.
    So WiMax will live longer life , say 3-5 years , before LTE catches up with it. Then there is this small matter of price war once both are available across the country. You are talking 5 years time for that to happen.

    The brain dead analysts have to rewrite their analysis about WiMax for now.

  3. For the technological issues, lets cut to the chase: WiMAX and LTE are very, very similiar. The only difference, for the layman, is the up-channel on LTE supports smaller packet sizes making voice transport easier. the converse, is that WiMAX is better geared towards data with larger packet sizes.
    Great article OM!

    For the business model though, OM and Skakouri are right about the uncertainty that WiMAX economics creates for the 3G manufacturers. WiMAX is being deployed today in emerging markets has nothing to do with (WiMAX vs LTE or what the US and Western Europe will evolve to), it is all about COST!!! The WiMAX gear is here today and is a fraction of the cost of 3G equipment. So, if you are an operator in an emerging market, lacking 3G infrastructure and you are under public scrutiny, public demand, gov’t mandate, profit motive or whatever to expand your data penetration across your sub base, and most likely you can’t afford 3G economics of basestations, you will deploy WiMAX (150k base station plus $100 MSM chips per handset vs. $40k base station and $30 wimax chip) – It’s all about the $$$s. Remove the emotion and look at the numbers. Most analysts are uncertain if LTE will follow the same WiMAX cost curve (cite IPR concerns, chip costs, etc). However, when you talk to the aircard manufacturers, who negotiate the chipset pricing and IPR, they are saying LTE is following the same cost curve as 3G. One went so far as to cite RevA pricing ($150 all in) – very disappointing, UGHHH! I thought we were beyond that.

    My prediction is that we will end up with two worlds of 4G tech – developed world with LTE and some WiMAX and emerging markets with WiMAX. Keep in mind though, the emerging markets are where the outsource trends and labor are occuring, so we should see a healthy, vibrant commerce/trade, and thus WiMAX will not disappear anytime soon.

    Lastly, Clearwire, albeit facing some hurdles, is in a good position due to its spectrum holdings. 2.5GHz is in SERVICE TODAY or is licensed to be in service in Europe and ROW (rest or world) tomorrow. This is very key for global adoption, global coverage and roaming. It is much easier to change the encoding mechanism in a device (WiMAX to LTE and vise versa) than to change the frequency – tomorrow’s platforms for encoding are flexible. Frequency requires new physical filters and antennas – adding to an already crowded bill of materials (i.e. raising the cost of the device, subsidy, etc). Making 700 Mhz a global frequency will be much harder to accomplish as 2.5GHz has been around for some time now.

    1. Attention should also be paid to North American Smart Grid build outs. As standardization and security become mora and more imperative, more utilites will deploy private WiMax networks. Smart Grid, Smart Meters, and now Smart Radios.

  4. I won’t purchase a “smartphone” until WIMAX or equivalent gets here. I can live with WIFI until then.

    No kidding, what’s taking so long? It’s not like the technology is new, my Ricochet modem back in 2000 worked flawlessly.

    I’d like to read more about mobile-WIMAX vs. non-mobile-WIMAX. Any good articles? Most of us want mobile-WIMAX, but when I look up companies offering WIMAX here in Texas they only offer fixed point-to-point solutions.

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