WiMax Uptake Growing Faster Than Expected


WiMax growth is surpassing expectations, according to a new report from the WiMax Forum

The 4G technology WiMax is on track to surpass predictions of covering 800 million people by the end of 2010, the WiMax Forum has announced.

With WiMax service providers in 147 countries now covering 620 million people, the Forum expects WiMax technology to cover more than 1 billion people by end of 2011.

“Clearwire plans to continue rolling out our 4G network to additional markets in 2010 with the launch of service in several large metro areas, including New York, Houston and the San Francisco Bay area—ultimately reaching up to 120 million people by the end of 2010,” Ali Tabassi, a senior vice president at Clearwire and a member of the WiMax Forum, said in a statement.

U.S. carrier Sprint Nextel owns the majority share of Clearwire, which rolled out the nation’s first WiMax coverage area in Baltimore in late 2008.

“The expansion of our footprint will help meet the pent-up demand for true mobile broadband in the U.S. and allow us to continue to serve as a global resource for best practices in 4G network development around the world,” Tabassi said.

The WiMax Forum detailed that the majority of WiMax coverage is currently in Asia Pacific, where 237 million people are covered under 100 network deployments. Central and Latin America have 109 deployments, covering 113 million people. Africa has 142 deployments while Europe has 153, though they cover 108 million and 115 million users, respectively.

In North America, deployments have reached 51, for a coverage rate of 47 million people.

Driving WiMax growth in 2010, the Forum reported, will be an increase in consumer products, including tri-band smartphones and feature phones capable of global roaming.

“The new deployment numbers and population statistics demonstrate that the WiMax ecosystem has strong momentum for the start of the new year and will continue to meet the global market demand for high-speed broadband access in developed and emerging regions,” said Ron Resnick, president and chairman of the Forum.

The new numbers follow recent announcements from U.S. carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, which all have plans for rolling out the competing 4G technology, LTE (Long Term Evolution).

AT&T has already begun testing LTE and plans to begin rolling out its new network in 2011, while Verizon will launch its network in mid-2010.

ABI Research, in a 3 Dec. report, stated that while WiMax has a head start, it expects that “the LTE ecosystem will eventually be vastly larger than the mobile WiMax ecosystem.”

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