An ABI Research report projects WiMax users to hit 59 million by 2015, though several factors have hampered growth.
According to projections from IT market analysis firm ABI
Research, the number of subscribers to mobile WiMax services will approach 59
million in 2015. The firm said that represents a positive forecast in light of
recent economic conditions, although research analyst Xavier Ortiz noted WiMax's
growth has not been as early or as strong as many would have hoped several
The factors impeding WiMax's growth haven't been
technological, he says, but economic and psychological. "The recession
certainly played a role, making investors wary and delaying some deployments,"
he said. "On top of that, delays in the formation of the new Clearwire
have constrained the rest of the ecosystem to some degree, from subscribers to
devices and chip sets."
The report noted subscriber growth and base station
shipments go hand in hand, and despite uncertainty among many operators as to
which mobile 4G platform-WiMax or TD-LTE (Long Term Evolution)-to choose, ABI
Research's forecasts saw WiMax base station shipments continuing to grow
(albeit at a slowing pace) through the current 2015 forecast period.
Ortiz added that, depending on the particular vendor, much
of the hardware in a WiMax base station may be reusable for TD-LTE. "Service
providers adopting WiMax but interested in upgrading their networks have been
choosing those infrastructure vendors that can offer the options of staying
with WiMax (moving toward 802.16m) or moving toward TD-LTE," he said. "This
creates a sense of reassurance for service providers."
The lion's share of the market for WiMax base stations
during 2009 was divided between four major vendors, the report said. In terms
of market share, Alvarion is the leader, followed closely by Samsung. NSN
(through acquisition of Motorola's wireless networks business) and Huawei hold
third and fourth place shares, respectively, followed by ZTE and NEC at fifth
and sixth place. The remainder of the market is shared among "Other"
Research's WiMax study presents an overall view of the WiMax market, examining
its progress since the beginning of 2009, the challenges it has had to
overcome, and likely future developments. The data includes information on
infrastructures, base station vendors and CPE
shipments, segmented population coverage, and revenue. It is part of the firm's
4G Research Service, which also includes other research reports, research
briefs, market data, ABI insights, ABI vendor matrices and analyst inquiry support.
In April IT research firm IDC
projected spending on competing technology LTE would outpace spending on WiMax
by the end of 2011. In a report issued April 26, IDC
analysts said more than 100 mobile operators-including nine of the top 10
worldwide-are supporting LTE, and such a high level of commitment will push the
technology past WiMax and let it continue growing. IDC is
predicting that LTE infrastructure revenues will grow to almost $8 billion by
Despite the push by wireless carriers like AT&T and
Verizon for LTE, Clearwire officials, who back WiMax, have said they plan to
offer WiMax service in 80 markets by the end of 2010, which will cover 120
million people. Sprint owns a majority stake in Clearwire. In addition, IDC
analysts noted that despite the strong future of LTE, there are challenges
facing the 4G technology, including varying levels of commitment among
operators and some issues surrounding spectrum.