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Asia is WiMax's best bet

Region holds "best prospects" for adoption of wireless technology, but China's backing of 3G dampens WiMax's chances of success, says Frost & Sullivan.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

WiMax has the best chance of success in Asia, but China's backing of 3G cellular broadband presents a significant dampener to WiMax's prospects in the region, said Frost & Sullivan.

Shaker Amin, Frost & Sullivan analyst said Monday in a statement that the Asia-Pacific region's underserved markets, with an estimated 3.6 billion people and lacking in 3G spectrum and broadband connectivity, represent "the best prospects" for WiMax uptake.

Large operators in the region such as Japan's KDDI, India's Tata Communications and Korea Telecom are still investing heavily in WiMax technology, Amin said, adding that smaller "maverick WiMax operators" are contributing to wireless broadband use as well.

However, China's non-participation in the WiMax movement presents a challenge to the technology, he noted. The Chinese government has opted not to issue WiMax licenses, instead choosing to back its homegrown flavor of competing cellular-based wireless broadband technology, 3G.

While the WiMax services market is estimated to hit US$6.4 billion in billings by end-2014, "these estimates could double if the Chinese government changes its position on WiMax", he said.

Other "important markets" for WiMax such as India and Thailand have fallen behind in issuing WiMax licenses and spectrum allocation, Amin added. WiMax is also plagued by competition from cellular broadband in markets including Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, according to him.

"Competition does exist from 3G and regulation will remain a challenge in some countries, but overall, we believe WiMax can be deployed as an effective technology to connect people who will never realistically receive fixed-line or other wireless broadband services," said Amin.

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