With plans by over 200 operators worldwide to deploy WiMAX this year, it is no wonder TeleGeography Research touted 2007 as “the year WiMAX finally comes of age.” This is particularly true in Asia. Nortel is collaborating with Toshiba and a unit at the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to provide WiMAX service in Honshu Island. It also teamed up with Chungwa Telecom to develop Taiwan’s first integrated local government WiMAX network. Alcatel-Lucent, meanwhile, revealed it finalized a deal with Maxis Communications Berhard in Malaysia to conduct a field trial of WiMAX 802.16e solution using 2.5-GHz spectrum, with the aim of addressing the demand for wireless broadband access by residential users.
Ovum analyst Nathan Burley suggested that licensing issues and the availability of appropriate spectrum could impede the progress of massive WiMax deployments in Asia and the Pacific. He said that none of the four existing WiMAX bands is broadly available in the region and approved licenses do not support extensive roll-outs. There is also the question of consumer acceptance. Considering the popularity of Wi-Fi and 3G, the analyst firm believes fixed and mobile WiMax will remain “niche technologies in most markets for the next five years.” The technology’s future depends on the volume of WiMax chipsets integrated into consumer electronic devices and the commitment of mobile operators to HSDPA deployments.