Column
WiMAX Industry Development Landscape
Kevin Yang, Ph.D. Exec. Board of Director & Spokesman President Office, Gemtek Technology Co., Ltd.

  It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. Even if carriers offer various solutions under the term "4G", it should be no surprise that all eyes are on faster networking speed and a fatter broadband pipe. Key enabler to a solid 4G network will be the co-existence of LTE, WiMAX, femtocells, WiFi hotspots and other integrated technologies complementing each other.

Reasons to that? For developed markets, we are now witnessing the booming MID (Mobile Internet Devices), smartphone and tablet presence. iSupply projects mobile internet device shipments to rise nearly eightfold by 2012. On top of that, connected home is approaching prime time due to improvements in media processors, home networking is also showing great strides, and innovative M2M applications are supported by many vendors and governments worldwide. For emerging markets where the extension of broadband availability of residential and business users are still underserved, a cost-efficient yet more advanced technology to manifest itself as the candidate for skipping legacy technologies like DSL still presents a win-win proposition. To sum up, cloud service, mobile internet, internet of things and basic telecom infrastructure deployment and optimization will still be the hottest spots for the next decade in this industry.

However, if we look at where telecom operators worldwide are standing now, we see a big gap between their actual CAPEX spike and their propaganda. Most 3G carriers haven't generated much premium from earlier 3G investments and hence carriers only guarantee a fraction of their speeds and implement stringent data cap policies. Cloud cores and expanding population of mobile terminals place amazing amount of pain on carriers' networks. With dual negative news, at this stage, not many carriers could afford to go beyond modest trial in 4G, preferably LTE, where a new core network, older Node Bs replacement, new in-fill cell sites and existing E1 based transmission networks upgrade are all CAPEX sensitive. Deployments now are more likely immodest marketing and soft launches in a few trial-run cities.

 

4G LTE will not be mature enough to benefit operators from mass deployments before 2015. 4G LTE at its infancy or 4G LTE alone "would not be able to cope with anticipated demand for high bandwidth services", warned KDDI, the Japanese leading carrier who also considered upgrading its core network to the next generation technology.

To satisfy the need of appropriate and timely access to information regardless of the location of each individual, 4G scenarios will have to give people more convenience and to embrace lots of significant options and trends. 4G LTE and WiMAX are in a complementary relationship with each other. Subscribers would possess LTE/WiMAX dual mode terminals and enjoy the flexibility between different services. Additionally, WiFi hotspots will play a crucial role in outdoor connections and femtocell would be the best traffic off-loader to fulfill fixed and mobile convergence. All-IP feasibility is undoubtedly good news to Taiwan manufactures who excel at highly customized products and time-to-market delivery. Take Gemtek for example, our significant market share in WiFi, WiMAX and 3G femtocell, and early-mover advantage in LTE products prove that flexible R&D resources and time-to-volume operation capability could make us very well-positioned.

We would like to shed some light on WiMAX market status as one of the major local WiMAX manufacturer. The WiMAX market has been battling through a tough year, with perceptions of the technology dented by marketing of TD-LTE, which overshadows WiMAX with claims pointing at WiMAX carriers with 2.3 and 2.6GHz spectrum attempting to switch to TD-LTE if they have some money. There is enough doomsday talk about WiMAX that people seem to be overlooking the fact that WiMAX equipment market has performed pretty well so far in 2010 with sequential decent growth and we will also see mild growth in 2011 with more 3.5 GHz projects coming along and aggressive forecasts for WiMAX handsets. For now, the WiMAX market is growing through the expansion of existing networks, green-field deployments, a gradually broadening device ecosystem, and continued subscriber growth.

In developed markets, intelligent industrial applications such as wireless energy and healthcare will rely heavily on WiMAX to monitor, integrate, or automate electrical network. What is more, WiMAX would also be the extension of WiFi while data congestion headache shall inevitably linger. It would also be the backhaul of part of the 4G network for most existent WiMAX carriers in North America and Japan in future rapid and continuous deployments. With growing availability, WiMAX is now and here to compliment exiting 3.5G mobile broadband network through cost and time efficient solutions. For emerging markets, WiMAX would still be the fastest way to deploy wireless last mile for fixed and mobile services. A cost effective alternative to wired technology, like DSL, which is also easier to maintain is the most attractive opportunity for WiMAX to enjoy a niche share in the 4G world, presumably 20-25%. We continue to see healthy deployment progress in Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Philippines from basic telecom infrastructure demands

Taiwan has already invested approximately one billion USD in WiMAX, which is the third largest in the world. As one of the core members of WiMAX forum and having 90% of worldwide WiMAX CPE OEM share, Taiwan should have more confidence in this technology. 568 deployments in 148 countries and over 1,700 certifications all proved that WiMAX is a mature 4G technology. 15.83 million WiMAX subscribers, among which we see strongest demand from North America and India, mean that WiMAX should have around 20% share in the 4G world.

Over the past few years, Taiwan has built up core competencies, product competitiveness and innovative application services. We leveled ourselves up in communication industry not only with efforts highly recognized from customers worldwide, but also with one director seat in international forums. WiMAX would be the stepping stone for Taiwan to develop products for main stream communication movement and walk faster into LTE markets. In the past, Taiwan manufacturers have been playing defensive by lowering prices and securing the bottom place of the value chain while flocking toward promising markets. WiMAX is a good introduction to climbing up the value chain. Manufacturing synergies from this export-driven island is very flexible to prepare ourselves ready for where volume and value are, especially when WiMAX and LTE share more than 70% overlapped technologies. Taiwan is now able to provide chipsets, CPEs, and BTs for WiMAX carriers, and we have six local WiMAX carriers and strong government support. Our vision is to provide multi-service flexible solution, both wired and wireless, for international telecom operators for advanced options and optimized networks for the future.

 

 

 

 

 

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