WiMAX wireless tech threatens 4G deployment

ABI Research reports that the steady rise of WiMAX (802.16e) broadband wireless technology may disrupt the future strategies of mobile operators, which appear to be confused about which is the best method to pursue.

Despite WiMAX's many delays, the technology has still managed to gain a two year lead over potential rivals:

“The mobile wireless industry is in a state of major change as mobile operators decide which IP-OFDMA path they will take for their 4G networks,” says principal mobile broadband analyst Philip Solis. “The new and unproven (on a large commercial scale) mobile WiMAX has positioned itself against the potential Goliath that LTE (Long Term Evolution) is expected to become.”

The research forecasts substantial numbers of WiMAX subscribers worldwide: more than 95 million using CPE devices by 2012, and almost 200 million using mobile devices, with some overlap between the two groups.

Presently Vodafone is looking to WiMAX for some of its newer markets such as the Middle East and Eastern Europe; BT and Telecom Italia Mobile are also showing interest. It's understood that another major European mobile operator is seriously considering WiMAX too.

In the middle of all this is HSPA (3.5G) technology, which some mobile operators would prefer to see developed to maturity before jumping into the next generation. We're probably not wrong for believing that 3G, at least in the UK, has otherwise been somewhat of a costly mess.

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