16 | June 2008
WiMAX goes the last mile
WiMAX is a DSL alternative—and not just in developing markets.
By Howard Wilcox, Juniper Research
he global opportunity Although WiMAX is oft en regarded and satellite navigation units as well as
for WiMAX 802.16e as an economically attractive technology more traditional items such as laptops and
to deliver ‘local loop’ in rural areas with no wired networks, dongles. Th e industry must ensure that
broadband connectivity will it is being increasingly positioned as an reliable, certifi ed devices are readily avail-
begin to take off over the 2009 alternative to DSL in both rural and metro able so that customers are not held back
to 2011 period, according to areas in developed countries. Typically, or discouraged from subscribing due to
Fixed WiMAX: Opportunities WiMAX service providers are diff erentiat- supply issues. Th ere is an opportunity to
for Last Mile Broadband Ac- ing their services either by off ering higher drive and sustain market takeoff through
cess 2008–2013, a new report speeds than DSL for customers located at a steady stream of innovative devices.
from Juniper Research. Th ere the distance limit from their local exchange, t 5 J N F M Z O F U X P S L D P O T U S V D U J P O T F S W J D F
is a signifi cant opportunity for or by emphasising ease and speed of set-up providers need to complete build pro-
WiMAX as a DSL substitute technology, for customers. WiMAX will therefore both grammes on time to achieve sustainable
and the fi xed subscriber base is forecast to cater for broadband growth and replace WiMAX-based businesses, and they
approach 50 million worldwide by 2013. some existing DSL connections. also need to translate the many, usually
Th ere are over 250 trial 802.16e WiMAX Service providers in a number of de- well-publicised trials, into commercial
networks globally, and a relatively small veloping countries such as India are also networks off ering reliable and attractively-
but rapidly growing number of commercial targeting rural areas that have no wired packaged services. Success will counteract
networks in service. With a swathe of trial networks at all, to provide basic telephony the view in some parts of the industry that
and network contract announcements over as well as more advanced services. In these WiMAX is always coming tomorrow.
the last 12 to 18 months, WiMAX is now communities, WiMAX subscribers will t # S B O E J E F O U J D B U J P O B O E T F S W J D F E J G
much more of a market threat to existing achieve a technology leap from having ferentiation: WiMAX service providers
broadband access technologies such as DSL. no communications to having the most need to avoid entering the market on
An analysis of the primary target market modern technology available: however, the the basis of price: this will be a diffi cult
focus of each of over 50 service providers, key issue in these markets is price. battle to win against established DSL
which have announced commercial network Th e next most popular market focus is and mobile operators, especially in
contracts, revealed the standout market for high-end business users—those with an developed markets like Western Europe.
focus is off ering an alternative to DSL. Th e ARPU in the $400 to $500 range—who re- Th ese established (usually 3G) operators
analysis illustrated that WiMAX is well quire secure, very high-speed connections, already have strong brand image and
suited to rapid deployment in the many and have more demanding bandwidth sophisticated marketing, and in some
underserved areas, not only in emerging needs: hosting their own servers, for exam- countries, such as Ireland and Scandina-
markets but also in developed economies. ple, and require some element of nomadic via, are already enjoying success in the
working. Again, in this space, WiMAX is DSL substitution market.
Fixed WiMAX: Opportunities for last mile
proving attractive to subscribers who have Most new technology launches face
broadband access 2008-2013
used DSL up to now. issues like this, and with the impetus that
500 Th e survey showed that the vast majority WiMAX has now in the marketplace, it
of service providers are concentrating on is well placed to grow. In fact, WiMAX is
400 providing fi xed broadband services to be- forecast to substitute for nearly 50 million
gin with, although many have the intention or 12 percent of the DSL and mobile broad-
300 of developing mobile off erings once their band subscriber base globally by 2013.
DSL & other
networks and services are established.
However, there a number of issues that Howard Wilcox is a senior analyst
WiMAX as an ecosystem needs to address, with Juniper Research in the UK. Juniper
including: Research specialises in the identifi cation