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38 | June 2008 |
and ZTE (as volumes ramp up) have combined to
make the 3G USB dongle a runaway success story.
According to Ofcom, the UK telecom regulator,
more than 55,000 HSPA compatible dongles were sold
in January 2008 alone.
Although the fl at-rate mobile data packages of-
fered by the UK’s mobile operators have been high
(typically ranging between £20 and £25 ($40 to
$50), competition should bring these tariff s down.
In May 2008, Vodafone UK announced it would be
integrating Web access with all of its standard post-
pay tariff s. It means that contract customers will no
longer need to buy an additional Internet bundle
from Vodafone for £7.50 ($15) per month.
“In the UK and other Western markets where
DSL and HSPSA is widely deployed, we feel that
WiMAX is a niche market,” says Julien Grivolas, a
principal analyst at Ovum.
But niche does not necessarily mean unprofi t-
able, as Grivolas readily acknowledges. Th e two
main WiMAX players in the UK—Urban WiMAX
Is there room
and Freedom4—are each basing their business
plans on achieving penetration rates of only
around 5 percent in their respective addressable
business markets.
UK Broadband, which is trialling mobile
for WiMAX?
WiMAX in the 3.GHz band, goes further and
says that WiMAX could indeed be a mass market
proposition, even if there is lot of DSL, cable and
3G to compete against. “WiMAX has a role to play
in delivering high-capacity mobile and nomadic
The UK broadband market is crowded and highly broadband,” says a company spokesperson. “Analy-
competitive, but the WiMAX players remain undaunted
sis shows that HSPA cannot meet the capacity
required to serve the mass market. WiMAX does
By Ken Wieland
have the capacity and has a timing advantage over
the so-called evolution of HSPA networks to LTE.
LTE is still some way to becoming a reality and will
he UK broadband market, at fi rst glance, Fibre and wireless technologies, on the other hand, require signifi cant capex for spectrum acquisition
seems a hostile place for WiMAX. At the are only expected to account for 0.2 percent each of all and network equipment.”
end of 2007, according to fi gures from Infor- the UK broadband households by the end of 2012.
ma Telecoms & Media, the number of broadband Th e market for 3G data cards is also heating up. Finding a profi table niche
subscriptions in the UK exceeded 15 million. Of Each of the mobile network operators—3UK, Vo- Th e broadband landscape in the UK has not been
that sum, DSL accounted for around three quarters dafone, T-Mobile, Orange and O2—has launched off -putting for Intel. In February 2008, the US
of the market and cable the remainder. Only 25,000 HSDPA, which, the operators claim, allows average chipmaker giant (through Intel Capital) made a
broadband subscribers in the UK, at the end of downlink speeds of between 1Mbps and 2Mbps. ‘signifi cant investment’ in Freedom4 to take its
2007, were connected by either wireless, WiMAX or At the end of 2007, 3G penetration in the UK equity stake in the company to 48 percent (the
satellite technology. had risen to 21 percent, with T-Mobile, Vodafone remainder is held by Freedom4 Communications,
Th e outlook for WiMAX in the UK, in terms of and O2 more than doubling their 3G subscriber formerly known as Pipex, a UK ISP).
subscriber market share, is not promising either. bases compared to the end of 2006. Th ere is no intention on Intel’s part, however, of
Total broadband connections are projected by Th e sale of USB dongles, which are 3G and going into a head-to-head battle with DSL. “I don’t
Informa Telecoms & Media to rise to nearly 22 HSPA compatible, is also booming. (HSPA is an think anybody would, should or even could compete
million by the end of 2012, which translates into umbrella term covering high-speed downlink packet on the basis of being a DSL substitute,” says Ash
a household penetration of 76.5 percent. DSL access, HSDPA, and high-speed uplink packet access, Patel, managing director of Intel Capital (EMEA). “I
is expected to capture the lion’s share of those HSUPA.) Introduced into the UK in September don’t think that’s what WiMAX is about. It’s a mis-
broadband households (59 percent) followed by 2007, the easy installation process and ever-de- positioning of the WiMAX value proposition to talk
cable (17 percent). creasing unit prices from Chinese vendors Huawei about DSL as being threatened.”
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