WiMAX device shipments surged in US

600,000 devices shipped in Q1 2009

In another sign that the 4G wireless Internet market is revving up, market research firm reports that shipments for WiMAX devices grew by 147% in 2009.

Maravedis says WiMAX services providers added a worldwide total of 3.5 million new subscribers last year. The firm notes that Motorola was the big mover in the market last year, as the company shipped 1.4 million WiMAX devices in 2009, with more than 600,000 devices shipped in the fourth quarter of 2009 alone. Chipset vendor Beceem also proved to be a major player as it shipped around 3 million chipset in 2009, roughly two-thirds of which shipped in the second half of the year. In other words, Beceem accounted for roughly 60% of the five million total WiMAX chipsets shipped in 2009.

But although WiMAX device and chipset shipments showed impressive growth, the overall market for WiMAX equipment remained relatively flat as declines in WiMAX base station shipments offset gains in device and chipset shipments. In all, shipments for WiMAX equipment totaled $1.36 billion in 2009, representing miniscule growth from the $1.34 billion worth of WiMAX equipment shipped in 2008.

"The overall picture is mixed," says Maravedis research director Adlane Fellah. "Shipments of base stations decreased in 2009 and were impacted more deeply by the economic downturn, whereas device shipments, especially mobile WIMAX devices, grew at a rate of 147% year-over-year compared to 2008."

WiMAX is currently the only 4G wireless technology available in the United States. Clearwire has built the largest WiMAX network in the country, covering 27 major U.S. markets and more than 34 million points of presence (POP). By year-end, Clearwire will have built out a WiMAX network that spans all major U.S. markets and that covers 120 million POPs.

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