WiMax to grow despite hurdles in Asia

South Korea will lead the market in the number of subscribers to the wireless high-speed technology, a recent study shows.

The subscriber base of WiMax in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow from 80,000 last year to 3.8 million by 2009, accounting for 45 percent of the world's total, a new report reveals.

According to research firm In-Stat, this is despite key challenges faced by WiMax, which has a range of up to 30 miles and can deliver broadband speeds of up to 75 megabits per second.

"Issues that may hamper the adoption of WiMax networks in the region include spectrum regulation that varies significantly across countries and competition on mobility from other technologies," said Bryan Wang, an In-Stat content manager, in a statement.

Wang added: "Fixed wireless operators are not very enthusiastic about WiMax, after having been burned by last-mile promises in the past. Vendors need to recruit a few high-profile operators to build real-world success stories early on."

South Korea is poised to take the driver's seat in the region. In-Stat projects the country will contribute more than 40 percent of the regional US$1.9 billion WiMax equipment revenue in 2009. China and Japan are expected to follow closely behind, at 34 percent and 17 percent respectively.

In-Stat also predicts that South Korea will command the highest WiMax service revenue in 2009, due to its sophisticated broadband content and application industry.