Wireless broadband to be cellular feast

'Oh WiMax, wherefore art thou?'

'Oh WiMax, wherefore art thou?'

Massive growth in wireless broadband services is being forecast, with the market set to be dominated by cellular technologies.

Telecoms analyst Analysys Mason predicts there will be a total of 2.1 billion wireless broadband customers globally generating $784bn in service revenue by 2015 - an increase of some 2,400 per cent.

Cellular broadband technologies - such as HSPA (aka 3.5G) and LTE (the next-gen long term evolution of 3G) - will take the largest share, with 20 times as many customers as alternative wireless broadband tech WiMax by the end of 2015.

Wireless from A to Z

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A is for Antivirus
B is for Bluetooth
C is for The Cloud
D is for dotMobi
E is for Email
F is for FMC
G is for GPS
H is for HSDPA
I is for i-mode
J is for Japan Air
K is for Korea
L is for LBS
M is for M2M
N is for NFC
O is for Operating systems
P is for Pubs
Q is for QoS
R is for Roaming
S is for Satellite
T is for TV
U is for UMTS
V is for Virgin
W is for WiMax
X is for XDA
Y is for Yucca
Z is for Zigbee

WiMax will contribute just two per cent of global revenue by then after failing to achieve significant market share, according to the analyst.

The analyst predicts the number of HSPA and HSPA+ customers will rise from 61 million globally by the end of 2008 to 1.1 billion by the end of 2015. This increase will be down to GSM operators taking the obvious cellular route for their technology's evolution, it said.

Writing in a report entitled Wireless broadband forecasts for 2008-2015: HSPA, HSPA+, EV-DO, LTE and WiMax, co-author Dr Mark Heath said HSPA will support the vast majority (88 per cent) of all wireless broadband consumers by the end of this year - and its importance is set to continue for years to come.

HSPA and HSPA+ will carry on playing an important role, supporting 54 per cent of users by the end of 2015 despite the increasing availability of the 4G offerings LTE and WiMax, he added.

Report co-author Dr Alastair Brydon added the "vast majority" of mobile network operators will upgrade to LTE rather than WiMax, "resulting in over four times more LTE users [then WiMax] by the end of 2015".

By 2015 the analyst says WiMax customers will number just 98 million - with the vast majority (92 per cent) in developing regions.

The report suggests WiMax will do best in the developing world, owing to the lack of fixed-line infrastructure there. In developed markets it will be squeezed by both fixed and cellular broadband services, it adds.

WiMax has made modest progress in the UK, with three commercial networks up and running in parts of Manchester, Milton Keynes and Warwick, and a greater number of business networks. But there are as yet no plans as grand in Blighty as US telco Sprint Nextel's plan to build a nationwide WiMax network.