Bad times for broadband sector

Anemic sales in North America caused the market for broadband fixed wireless equipment to shrink in the first quarter of 2001 from the previous quarter, according to industry research.

Anemic sales in North America caused the market for broadband fixed wireless equipment to shrink in the first quarter of 2001 from the previous quarter, according to industry research.

A study by the Dell'Oro Group put the total market for equipment that transmits high-speed data from one fixed point to multiple points at about US$150 million, 35 percent lower than the market in the fourth quarter of 2000.

The research suggests that while North American carriers have slowed down their purchasing, phone providers elsewhere might pick up the slack because fixed wireless fits into their telecom infrastructure, since other markets are less wired than the United States.

"In Europe, Asia and Latin America, fixed wireless is very popular because you don't have the wired infrastructure to accommodate DSL or T1" connections, Greg Collins, a director at Dell'Oro, said in an interview.

The study tapped Alcatel as the market leader once again, grabbing 35 percent of the market, which was down from its 40 percent share in the previous quarter.

Floware occupied the second spot, increasing its market share to about 14 percent from 7.7 percent, and Breezecom came in third with a 13 percent stake, up from 11 percent.

Alacatel's first-quarter sales declined by 43 percent from the previous quarter, and Breezecom's fell 21 percent. Floware managed to grow its revenue in the market by 16 percent.

Dell'Oro divided the market into two equipment types: base station equipment, which carriers place on towers; and customer premise equipment, which people buy to receive and transmit data from base stations.

Alcatel lead the base station market with 47 percent market share in the quarter, followed by Floware, which claimed 18 percent of the market. In the customer market, Breezecom's 27 percent share beat out Alcatel's 19 percent.

Collins thinks that North American carriers want to wait for newer technologies. Fixed wireless connections depend on unobstructed pathways from base stations to customer sites, and the new equipment may get around this problem. Meanwhile, other high-speed connections through DSL and cable modems remain an attractive alternative.

"Over the next 12 months, sales...in Europe, Latin America and Asia will be key to driving growth," Collins said in a statement. "North American service providers are reducing their capital spending levels as well as delaying major infrastructure expansion ahead of new, non-line-of-sight technologies,''

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