Mobile WiMAX deployment and migration/upgrade strategies

June 26, 2010

This week, I had the pleasure of attending a Maravedis seminar on Mobile WiMAX Deployment and Migration/Upgrade Strategies, sponsored by Aviat Networks. Thanks a lot to Maravedis for providing me this opportunity.

Adlane Fellah of Maravedis provided a general overview of the mobile WiMax scenario, while Robert Syputa of Maravedis touched upon the evolving technology and market landscape. Later, Jonathan Jaeger, WiMAX Solutions Marketing, at Aviat Networks discussed the mobile WiMAX deployment and migration/upgrade strategies.

Giving a general overview, Adlane Fellah said that the global WiMAX industry in 2009 was as follows: the total WiMAX market size $1.36 billion. About 5 million WiMAX chipsets were shipped — +332 percent growth Y-o-Y. Also, 3.5 million new WiMAX CPEs were deployed. The WiMAX base station sectors –10.9 percent. However, the end-users want broadband wireless now, while the operators are confused by future evolution.

Key trends in LTE and WiMAX
Looking at the LTE and WiMAX key trends from 4Ggear report, specifically, for WiMAX chipsets, vendors have been offering differentiated chipsets to address the emerged markets. Also, there has been aggressive chipset pricing: higher volume and optimized platforms.

As for LTE chipsets, the leading chipset vendors include Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson and Nokia. The early solutions support LTE only. However, it is believed that the early suppliers may not be the long term winners.

Coming to WiMAX devices, we have seen diversified deployments of low cost CPEs, dual-mode USB dongles, and smartphones, etc. As for LTE devices, demonstrators = single-mode followed by dual-mode USB dongles. With regard to 4G equipment, WiMAX has clearly established a beachhead for technological progress, and LTE will surely benefit from it.

WiMAX chipset trends
Next, we take a look at the WiMAX chipsets trends. Shipments of mobile WiMAX chipsets reached 5.2 million units in 2009. There was a surge in Q409, thereby accelerating device shipments in 1H10. It must be noted that the top five chipset vendors market share is over 95 percent. Also, 802.16e owns the lion’s share with over 95 percent.

There has been a shift to very integrated and lower cost WiMAX chipset. Functions, such as WiMAX+WiFi, WiMAX+NPU, BB+RF, have merged. We have also seen a migration to lower process geometry to save cost and power consumption – leading to 65nm boom. There is a pressure on prices leading to fierce competition and market demand. Operators definitely need more devices.

We have had a move towards LTE, leveraging OFDM technology and BWA ecosystem expertise. Some have already sampled chipsets.

Some mergers or acquisitions are also likelyin 2010, because of the scale and lack of funding, and limited market share.

The concluding of this report — in the next blog post — will look at the impressions of Robert Syputa of Maravedis on the evolving technology and market landscape, as well as Jonathan Jaeger of Aviat Networks on mobile WiMAX deployment and migration/upgrade strategies.

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