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19 December 2006


WiMAX growth in China depends on how industry deals with barriers

WiMAX has an excellent opportunity to expand China’s market for fixed, portable, and mobile broadband access, reports In-Stat in ‘WiMAX Market in China: The Next PHS [personal handy-phone system]’.

In early 2006, China Netcom began to deploy WiMAX 802.16-2004 systems (3.5GHz) for fixed wireless access (voice and data) in the Guangdong province, aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses and the residential market. “WiMAX does have many advantages in cost, flexibility, and deployment convenience,” says analyst Kevin Li.

But although traction in the 802.16-2004 (fixed) market will be important, the real success of WiMAX in China will depend on the much larger 802.16(e) market. However, WiMAX development in China is still confronting some barriers: uncertain spectrum allocation, immature 802.16e product, and competition from the 3G industry, In-Stat says. Equipment and subscriber forecasts therefore depend on how the industry deals with these issues.

Nevertheless, In-Stat says that a factor in favour of WiMAX is that it is a data network access technology, which means no circuit switching domain is required, whereas 3G is divided into circuit switching and packet switching domains, which carry voice and data, respectively.

In-Stat concludes by forecasting that the China WiMAX subscriber base will increase from 8000 in 2005 to 3,525,070 (in an aggressive scenario) or 1,234,120 (in a conservative scenario) by 2010.