Asia Pacific leads world in WiMax adoption: Frost & Sullivan

WiMax investments should be made now or never, analyst group claims

The Asia Pacific region continues to lead the world in WiMax innovation, as countries like Japan, India and Korea continue to invest in the technology, with maverick operators in neighboring countries following suit, industry analyst firm Frost & Sullivan reported recently.

This feat, however, is stifled by China's refusal to license WiMax in its area, the firm said. "The fact that China has not supported WiMAX, preferring instead to back the homegrown TD-SCDMA 3G standard, is particularly unnerving for the technology's prospects in the region," said Shaker Amin, industry analyst, Frost & Sullivan.

The irony is that Chinese infrastructure giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE are two of the world's largest WiMax vendors. ""Even grimmer still, important markets such as India and Thailand, both of which also hold great potential for WiMAX, have fallen behind in issuing WiMAX licenses and spectrum allocation in the 2.3 and 2.5GHz bands," Amin added.

Aside from sluggish adoption in some countries, Amin added that weak operator support, high equipment prices, and HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) competition continue to plague WiMax adoption in Asia Pacific.

Despite these setbacks, the firm estimates the subscriber base in the region to amount to 24 million by 2014, with revenues of up to $6.4 billion. "We believe that the region holds the best prospects for WiMAX services in terms of subscriber uptake and future innovation," said Amin, adding that much of Asia-Pac, compared to the rest of the world, still lack 3G spectrum and broadband connectivity.

For this reason, Amin noted that it's now or never for operators to adopt WiMax. "We believe that the key focus of WiMAX will be to provide basic data connectivity in underserved markets at around the 1Mbps level, and as a precursor or complement to HSPA and LTE technologies where spectrum is scarce," he explained.

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