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WiMAX and LTE both look resilient in carrier survival plans

16 января 2009

Operators may be battening down the hatches in 2009, but they remain under pressure to improve the capacity and efficiency of their networks in order to meet unchanging consumer demand for mobile broadband, at minimum cost. This will favor new deployment approaches, such as femtocells, and ironically, could accelerate the uptake of next generation systems in some markets, because of the far superior efficiency of the OFDMA-based IP networks, WiMAX and, further down the track, LTE.

Both platforms got some good news this week from market researchers, with Dell’Oro Group saying that WiMAX infrastructure revenues quadrupled in the third quarter of 2007, year-on-year, while ABI Research predicted that carriers would have spent $8.6bn on LTE infrastructure by 2013.

Scott Siegler, author of Dell’Oro’s report, commented: “With LTE still a couple of years away, WiMAX has, in fact, become the first next generation technology with commercial service.” He expects that, when fourth quarter figures are collated, Mobile WiMAX will see another revenue record, despite the economic downturn during that period, though he warns of setbacks in 2009 because of the credit crunch and higher cost of capital. Especially among operators in developed economies that need to spend “tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars of capital” on building new networks plus establishing brands and acquiring customers, he expects some build-out delays until 2010. In Q3 of last year, four vendors accounted for 90% of Mobile WiMAX revenues – Samsung, Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent and Alvarion.

Over at LTE, early movers are also likely to be pressured to delay their plans until 2010 or later, though some of these intentions looked over ambitious anyway given the embryonic state of the technology. ABI has identified 18 operators that have announced deployment plans, but these are mainly for 2011 to 2012, and the researchers say the tough financial climate “does not seem to have dampened enthusiasm” for LTE among 3G carriers.

The latest market update from the GSA, which represents GSM/HSPA/LTE operators, shows that, as of the end of 2008, W-CDMA increased its share of global 3G networks to over 70%, with 254 operators now live in 110 countries. Over 93% of commercial W-CDMA networks have also launched the HSPA upgrade in at least some markets, with 237 operators now live in 105 countries. About one-third of these are supporting the faster 7.2Mbps version of HSDPA and 66 carriers have also made the move to HSUPA, which is now available in 153 devices.

By Caroline Gabriel

Источник: WiMAX Trends

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