Research: WiMax revenues in APAC to surge to $5.5 billion

BANGALORE – WiMAX broadband wireless access technology is expected to gather strong momentum in the Asia Pacific region with WiMAX services revenues estimated to grow from US$58 million in 2007 to $5.46 billion by 2012, according to the latest report by Springboard Research.

This translates to a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 148 percent for the period.

The report, titled ‘Laying the Foundation: WiMAX in Asia/Pacific 2008’, further estimated the number of WiMAX subscribers to grow from 230,000 in 2007 to 33.9 million by 2012. Mobile WiMAX services are estimated to garner a significant majority of revenues and subscribers compared to fixed WiMAX services during the forecast period.

The report goes on to predict that India and Japan will be the largest markets for WiMAX in the region by 2012, with an estimated 35.7 per cent, and 16.9 per cent share, respectively, of the total regional market, followed by Pakistan and China.

Springboard added that its forecasts have accounted for some key assumptions including those related to country-specific licensing environments in the region, execution of investment plans outlined by vendors and market availability of WiMAX equipment as per projections.

“The next couple of years will be critical for WiMAX growth in Asia Pacific, and during that time, we are expecting services to be available for end users in over 10 countries,” said Bryan Wang, Springboard’s director of connectivity research.

“The majority of WiMAX subscribers will be from Korea, Pakistan, India, and Australia. At the same time, billions of dollars of investment is going to be spent on WiMAX infrastructures over the next five years, which also creates a big potential market for telecom equipment manufacturers,” Wang added.

Springboard’s report forecast 15.8 million WiMAX subscribers in India by 2012, representing 46.7 percent of total subscribers in the Asia Pacific region, and 35.7 percent total regional revenues from the country. India’s market leadership will be fostered by support from the government, ambitious investment plans by players like BSNL and Tata Communications, and the replacement of poor legacy fixed-line broadband infrastructure.

“We see tremendous potential for WiMAX deployment in many emerging markets in the region, which have struggled to extend fixed line/broadband infrastructure beyond a few big cities and into the rural and poorer areas,” Wang added.

Springboard asserts that Australia will register WiMAX infrastructure investments worth an estimated $500 million by 2012 on the back of aggressive plans by key players, Unwired and OPEL Ventures (a government-funded entity). The total market for WiMAX services in Australia is estimated to be $123.6 million by 2012. In Japan, Mobile WiMAX services are expected to monopolize the market as UQ Communications is slated to become the largest WiMAX operator, with the total market slated to grow to $924.5 million by 2012.

While Korea is predicted to more slowly adopt WiMAX despite having the world’s largest current subscriber base, China is expected to issue WiMAX licenses by 2009. WiMAX Vendors According to Springboard’s report, Motorola is the leader in the WiMAX vendor community in Asia Pacific for 2008, on the basis of a large number of significant WiMAX contracts won, along with a well-defined strategy to develop more WiMAX business in the region. The report goes on to rank individual WiMAX equipment vendors using Springboard’s WiMAX ‘Vendor Leadership Index.’

According to the index, the top five WiMAX vendors in Asia Pacific are, in order, Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent, Samsung, Nortel and Cisco.

“Traditional equipment vendors are expected to dominate the rankings as the market evolves and becomes more mature, due to their strong historical relationship with most telecom operators and extensive deployment and operation capabilities,” Wang explained.

Springboard’s report added that telecom operators are fast overcoming their concerns about accommodating WiMAX within their existing frequency allocation framework. While Australia was one of the first countries in the world to release broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum for WiMAX services in 2004, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore and Japan are other prominent countries to have issued similar licenses in 2007. India, Thailand and Indonesia are expected to announce spectrum allocation by 2008, while China is expected to hold off until 2009.

“With the maturity of WiMAX technology, and more operators and regulators around the world supporting WiMAX, we have seen most regulators in this region now announcing their plans to clear unused spectrum, or collect the spectrum used by the satellite or broadcasting industries, and re-allocate these spectrums specifically for the use of broadband wireless access (BWA),” Wang said.

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