WiMax to help solve 'last mile' woes

WiMax to help solve 'last mile' woes

Subscribers to hit 47 million within five years says Juniper Research

WiMax technology is set to take off in 2009, according to new analysis by Juniper Research.

The analyst firm estimates that the wide area wireless networking technology will help 47 million subscribers enjoy 'local loop' broadband connectivity globally by 2013.

A region by region analysis found that there is a "significant opportunity" now for the 802.16e standard as a DSL-substitute technology, helping to alleviate 'last-mile' bandwidth problems.

The report, titled The Last Mile: Opportunities for WiMAX, 2008-2013 explored how well WiMax is suited to rapid deployment in the many underserved areas, not only in developing areas, but also in developed countries.

"We determined that the vast majority of the WiMax 802.16e trials and network contracts that are being announced almost daily will begin by providing fixed broadband," said Howard Wilcox, the report's author.

"WiMax can deliver broadband not only to unwired areas, but can also improve speeds for subscribers who are on the fringe of DSL coverage in metropolitan areas. We anticipate that mobile usage will develop after initial demand for fixed and portable services."

According to Juniper's study, global WiMax service revenues as a DSL replacement technology will grow to over $20bn per annum by 2013 and is expected to be particularly popular in the Far East, US, Western Europe and Africa and the Middle East.

The report forecasts that around 12 per cent of the global DSL subscriber base will be replaced by WiMax by 2013.

However, the report cautioned that without the availability of suitable devices and timely network construction, this emerging technology could see adoption rates severely hampered.

Juniper stressed that service providers will need to complete build programmes on time in order to achieve sustainable WiMax-based businesses and they also need to translate the many, well-publicised trials into commercial networks offering reliable and attractively-packaged services.