market Series

WiMAX subscriber growth

A recent report by WiMAXCounts, a new tracking service offered by Canadian research group Maravedis, noted that by the end of Q1 2007, a total of nearly 1 million consumers had subscribed to a WiMAX or BWA/WiMAX services. The report further noted that in the first quarter of 2007 alone, a total of 150,000 subscribers were added, accounting for quarterly growth of 17.5%.

Among the leading countries for BWA/WiMAX subscribers the WiMAXCounts reported as United States, Spain, and Australia, accounting for nearly half of all subscribers.

Unwired in Australia lead the APAC region with more than 63,500 subscribers. The rest of the APAC regions delivered very low subscriber rates, particularly in Korea where SK Telecom and KT had managed only 1,057 subscribers for their 2.3 GHz WiBro service.

Iberbanda in Spain lead the European market with over 40,000 subscribers. For the same period, Irish Broadband reported some 20,000 subscribers, Clearwire in Denmark had over 10,000 subscribers and WiMAX Telecom in Austria reported more than 6,000 subscribers.

In North America, the market was dominated by Clearwire, which added 52,000 new subscribers during Q1 2007 giving it some 232,000 total subscribers in America. South of the border, Clearwire unit MVS reported 35,000 subscribers, and in South America an estimated 65,000 subscribers were using BWA/WiMAX, from companies Neotel in Brazil, Telmex, Entel and Ertach.

Future subscriber growth
With more than 120 WiMAX networks presently being deployed around the world, the next two years will be witness to phenomenal market growth.

Earlier this year, Intel VP and general manager Sean Maloney told financial analysts that Intel expects up to 400 deployments of WiMAX by 2008, which can reach a potential 150 million people. Intel estimates that by 2010 some 650 million people will have access to WiMAX, and 1.3 billion people will be able to use WiMAX by 2012.

A more conservative estimate of subscriber growth was presented in May by the research firm Senza Fili Consulting. Their research contends that by 2012 there will be 54 million consumers subscribed to WiMAX services.

Of this amount, the research noted that 61% of subscribers will use WiMAX as a mobile access technology. Moreover, contrary to current market performance, the Asia Pacific region will have the strongest subscriber growth, garnering 39% of the total market, with the USA having only 20% and 55% in other markets.

The research from Senza Fili also points out that WiMAX will have a strong presence in emerging markets, and forecast that 13% of subscribers will come from Africa and 9% from Eastern Europe, with only 3% from Western Europe.