Analyst: WiMax market will decline in 2009

Mobile WiMax will be hit both by the economic squeeze and competition from the LTE standard for 4G networks

The market for WiMax is predicted to decline in 2009, as mobile WiMax is hit both by the economic squeeze and competition from the LTE standard for 4G networks, according to an analyst report.

Total sales of fixed and mobile WiMax equipment fell 21 percent to $245 million in the third quarter of 2008, from the second quarter's figure, and are expected to "slide" in 2009, according to a report from Infonetics Research, which puts the decline down to the recession. "With less cash available for network rollout -- and possibly less spectrum being auctioned until the current financial crisis passes -- WiMax deployment will be inhibited for the next 12 months," said Richard Webb, wireless analyst at Infonetics.

Fixed WiMax installations have now reached a plateau, and mobile WiMax equipment has taken off slowly, despite the successful launch of Clearwire's Clear service and merger with Sprint's Xohm, said Webb.

The mobile version, based on the IEEE 802.116e standard, now makes up three quarters of the WiMax market, and will produce overall growth in WiMax, but not until 2010, said Webb, citing the successful migration from fixed to mobile, of market leader Alvarion.

Alvarion overtook Alcatel-Lucent and Motorola in the third quarter and Alcatel-Lucent has shifted its emphasis to the rival LTE (Long Term Evolution) standards, which are now seen as the leading specification for fourth-generation networks.

Infonetics predicts 76 million WiMax subscribers by 2011. So far the greatest concentration is in the Asia-Pacific region, and future growth will be strongest in developing countries, said Webb.

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