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Friday, October 9, 2009

RP cited for broadband wireless efforts

Unlike other Asian countries, the Philippines has made progress in the deployment of broadband wireless access service, Frost & Sullivan said.

“Some large Asian markets have made very little progress in licensing WiMAX [Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access telecommunications technology], while other markets such as Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore have seen considerable growth in wireless broadband subscribers using HSPA [high-speed packet access] data cards and dongles,” said Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Shaker Amin.

He noted that some countries are still in the initial stages of deploying wireless broadband services, mainly due to the lack of frequency allocation.

Phone companies in Japan, India and South Korea, he noted, are still investing heavily in the technology. While China prefers the homegrown TD-SCDMA third-generation standard over WiMAX, even as leading infrastructure giants in China such as Huawei Technologies and ZTE are among the largest WiMAX vendors in the world.

“Even grimmer still, important markets such as India and Thailand, both of which also hold great potential for WiMAX, have fallen behind in issuing WiMAX licenses and spectrum allocation in the 2.3 gigahertz (GHz) and 2.5GHz bands,” said Amin.

In its 2009 Asia-Pacific WiMAX Report, Frost & Sullivan conservatively estimates that the WiMAX subscriber base in the region, covering 17 Asia-Pacific nations, excluding China—could top 24 million by end-2014, with billings reaching nearly $6.4 billion.

These estimates, said Amin, could double if the Chinese government changes it position on WiMAX.

In addition to regulatory issues, weak operator support in some countries, high CPE (customer premise equipment) prices and competition from HSPA and LTE (Long Term Evolution) technologies continue to plague WiMAX development in the region.

Despite the odds, Amin believes that it’s now or never for WiMAX players. “With HSPA gaining momentum and LTE on the horizon, governments and operators must act quickly to take advantage of the features that mobile WiMAX technology can offer today,” he said.

“We believe that the key focus of WiMAX will be to provide basic data connectivity in underserved markets at around the 1Mbps level, and as a precursor or complement to HSPA and LTE technologies where spectrum is scarce,” added Amin.

Amin also believes that the region holds the best prospects for WiMAX services in terms of subscriber uptake and future innovation since the region is also home to many maverick WiMAX operators that are pioneering wireless broadband use among non-incumbent operators.

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