In WiMax, the New Beats the Old, So Far

By Eric Griffith

May 29, 2007

Startups outpaced the late-to-the-party established players in equipment sales last year, while the subscriber base soared.

New reports in today from analysts show how early-to-the-party WiMax equipment vendors are reaping the rewards as the number of subscribers using the technology climbs.

Up first, In-Stat says in 2006 the companies that jumped first on the WiMax bandwagon, including Alavarion, Aperto, Redline and Airspan, “held the dominant market positions” compared to better-known WiMax providers like Nokia, Siemens, Motorola and Samsung.

In-Stat analyst Daryl Schoolar says the early pioneers may “lose their market share dominance over the next couple of years, [but] they should continue to grow their revenues, benefiting from the overall growth of the market.” The numbers are found in In-Stat’s report entitled "2006 WiMAX Equipment Market Share - Waiting to Sprint.”

That market growth is amazing. There was an 85% jump in the number of WiMax subscribers to 950,000 in 2007, according to Maravedis, publisher of a new quarterly newsletter called WiMAXCounts. This number probably includes both pre-WiMax wireless broadband tech and actual 802.16-based products (the WiMax Forum will specifically test interoperability of products using 802.16 specifications). In-Stat, for example, says that by the end of 2006, there were 213,300 WiMax subscribers worldwide.

In-Stat also thinks that the current 802.16 equipment for fixed WiMax will have a longer life cycle, as there have been delays in the certification of 802.16e, or mobile WiMax.

Maravedis went on with key findings for the quarter, saying that the majority of wireless broadband deployments are still pre-WiMax proprietary (52%). 58% of users are residential, and the other 42% are businesses. They also say that with prices of DSL and WiMax services so close, price isn’t a big factor in most areas for getting users to sign up for wireless broadband.

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