Current Development of the Global WiMAX Market
Mobile Taiwan Applications Promotion Program Office, Industrial Development Bureau, MOEA

1. Accumulated WiMAX Investments Worldwide

Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC) estimates that the global WiMAX carriers' overall investments in WiMAX network deployment will reach around US$36.5 billion in the period 2005-2013. WiMAX saw rapid development in 2009 thanks to the continuous increase of investments worldwide. Looking at the development of separate countries, the United States, India, Korea, Brazil, Russia, and Japan have all planned to inject over US$1 billion into their respective WiMAX projects. In Taiwan, Tatung Telecom led off WiMAX service in Penghu County in April 2009, while FarEasTone Telecommunications, Global Mobile, and VMAX Telecom rolled out their services either at the end of 2009 or in early 2010. Taiwan's WiMAX development is also among the most vibrant worldwide, with the overall amount of investments projected to reach US$3.09 billion in 2013.



2. Global WiMAX Subscriber Growth and Technology Development Trends

By the fourth quarter of 2009, the accumulated number of global WiMAX subscribers reached 6.47 million, representing a sequential growth rate of 21.5% and nearly doubling the figure in the same quarter of the previous year. Based on the major WiMAX investment projects, it is forecasted that the global WiMAX subscriber base will sustain high growth in 2010 and reach approximately 12 million.



In regards to technology adoption, it can be seen that the implementation of 802.16e saw substantial increases in 2009. Growth drivers behind the increase of 802.16e use include the existing WiMAX carriers' upgrade from pre-WiMAX or 802.16d to 802.16e and the new carriers' entry into the market by means of 802.16e. At present, 802.16e subscriber coverage stands at 33.3%, already surpassing the share of subscribers serviced by 802.16d.


3. Current Development of WiMAX Carriers Worldwide

According to MIC's survey, around 340 WiMAX carriers in 116 countries worldwide have invested in WiMAX deployments and operations by the end of 2009. At present, most WiMAX carriers still have room for growth, with 76.1% of all carriers featuring a subscriber base of just under 10,000.  At the same time, there are 26 WiMAX carriers with more than 50,000 subscribers; that is to say, 7.6% of all WiMAX carriers account for around 70% of the 6.47 million global users. WiMAX has enabled many emerging Internet Service Providers (ISP) and carriers to tap into network services. However, further revenue and subscriber growth will have to rely on ensuing long-term investments and expansion of network coverage.


In Taiwan, there are six WiMAX carriers at present. Since the launch of services in the second half of 2009, four carriers - including Tatung Telecom, FarEasTone Telecommunications, Global Mobile, and VMAX Telecom - had accumulated an overall subscriber base of more than 10,000 by year end 2009. The other two carriers Vee Telecom Multimedia and FITEL are expected to obtain their respective service licenses and launch services in the first half of 2010. Taiwanese carriers which have begun services are expected to keep investing in base station deployment in 2010 so as to boost population coverage. VMAX expects to invest about NT$1.6 billion (US$ US$50.3 million; US$1=NT$31.8) in adding 300 new base stations in 2010. Global Mobile also said that it will spend approximately NT$3.0 billion (US$94.3 million) over the next three years on constructing 1,000 base stations and expanding its network coverage from Hsinchu to the greater Taipei region. In addition, Taiwanese PC manufacturers Acer and Asus have rolled out notebook PCs embedded with WiMAX modules, significantly increasing the lineup of available WiMAX devices, which is projected to elevate the WiMAX subscriber base in Taiwan.


4. Major WiMAX Investment Projects Worldwide

Many large-scale investment projects have emerged in 2009. Below is a list of major WiMAX investment projects worldwide up until the fourth quarter of 2009.

Table 1 Major WiMAX Investment Projects Worldwide, 2009






Craig Wireless


l          First-phase deployment completed; service to begin in Vancouver in 2Q 2010

United States

Time Warner


l          Service has begun in selected regions of Dallas; 1,000 new subscribers added in December 2009

l          Service began in San Antonio and Hawaii in early February 2010


Korea Telecom



l          Planned domestic investment estimated at 1.1 trillion Won (US$972.4 million; US$1=1131.2 Won) by the end of 2011

l          A US$56.6 million contract is signed with the government of Rwanda to provide network services in 30 Rwandan cities in 1H 2011.

SK Telecom


l          To invest 300 billion Won (US$265.2 million) in the next two years, with 140 billion won (US$123.8 million) to be spent in 2010


Packet One Networks




l          To invest 200 million MYR (US$60.6 million; US$1=3.3 MYR) in 2010

l          To boost WiMAX coverage in West Malaysia from 35% to 40% by year-end 2010

l          Target for subscriber base to grow from 130,000 in 4Q 2009 to 200,000 at year end 2010



l          Launched the "amax city" project at TPM (Technology Park Malaysia) targeting business users; subscriber base projected at 3,000 to 5,000 in 1Q 2010


Global Mobile

Nokia Siemens Networks

l          To add 1,000 new base transceiver stations

l          Collaborative equipment suppliers expected to include Nokia Siemens Networks, Motorola, and Huawei Technologies

l          The deal is valued at NT$2.0 billion (US$62.9 million)

Vee Telecom Multimedia


l          Expected to obtain the service license in March 2010

VMAX Telecom


l          Expected to invest NT$1.6 billion (US$50.3 million) and add 300 new base stations in 2010



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