Time right for WiMAX investment, says WiMAX Forum chief

Ron Resnick, WiMAX Forum president, argues the WiMAX business model is still attractive, despite (and even because of) the economic downturn.

Delivering the keynote address at the WIMAX Forum Congress Asia 2009 event held at the Suntec conference & exhibition centre in Singapore, Resnick pointed out that, historically, demand for entertainment services actually increases in difficult economic times. This, he says, plays into the hands of WIMAX, which can deliver ‘affordable mobile internet access’ using OFDM and MIMO technologies.

“My message to operators is to deploy now; to regulators to make more spectrum available; and to investors to make a bet on WiMAX,” says Resnick.

The retail distribution model adopted by many WiMAX operators, where devices are sold through independent outlets – and which carry no operator subsidies – are important cost-reduction features of the WiMAX business case compared with the traditional approaches undertaken by cellular operators, argues Resnick.  The customer convenience of self-activation on the network – quickly and easily in the comfort of their own home – is also an important advantage over cellular, asserts the WiMAX Forum chief.

And he was withering about the ability of 3G operators to deliver a ‘true’ mobile broadband service. “HSPA just can’t deliver video,” he says, “which is a potential killer app.”

The WiMAX Forum president cited a recent McKinsey study, which says there is around a 6-7 per cent growth in a country’s GDP for every ten per cent increase in broadband penetration, to remind governments and regulators there is a bigger economic picture to look at. “We want to encourage regulators to make spectrum available, particularly in the 2.3GHz, 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz frequency bands,” he says.

According to WiMAX Forum figures, there are now 468 network deployments tracked globally in 139 countries, up from 400 in mid-2008.

And in the Asia-Pacific region, Resnick pointed to recent and significant WiMAX operator investment by YTL (Malaysia), Tatung and FarEastone (both from Taiwan), Globe Telecom (Philippines), and the recent move by P1 (a Malaysian mobile WiMAX operator) to invest in Inverca Telecom to provide a wireless broadband network in Chile, as evidence of WiMAX resilience in the face of the credit crunch. “Despite the economic climate, WiMAX continues to grow,” says Resnick.


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