WiMAX World Europe Addresses Wireless Broadband Industry in EMEA

The main WiMAX World Europe conference program opened with a lead general session from Berge Ayvazian, Chief Strategy Officer, Yankee Group and Caroline Gabriel, Research Director, Rethink Research. The conference chairs covered the WiMAX and wireless broadband state-of-the-industry in Europe, Middle East and Africa. In addition, senior industry executives provided comprehensive views and analysis from a diverse segment of the WiMAX ecosystem.

WiMAX World Europe is running thru May 31, 2007 in Vienna, Austria at the Austria Center Venue.

Naeem Zamindar, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Mobilink, Pakistan’s largest cellular service provider, noted the significant opportunities for WiMAX in the fixed broadband market in developing countries. With a population of over 160 million people, Pakistan is the 7th largest country in the world. It has a young population, 42% being between 15 and 40 years of age and its mobile sector is booming, driving Pakistan’s economy forward.

Zamindar highlighted the untapped market of over 2.5M dial-up Internet users in Pakistan, a country where Digital Subscriber Loop (DSL) and Hybrid Fibre-Coax (HFC) account for only 50,000 connections. Mobilink, has opted to pursue this market with a 3.5 GHz WiMAX infrastructure, preferring to deploy a nomadic, limited-mobility service now rather than being delayed until additional and expensive 2.5 GHz spectrum is auctioned in 2009. WiMAX infrastructure has already been piloted by Mobilink in 3 cities and a recently issued RFP has generated 7 proposals to cover 5 major metros, including in-building coverage for high value business areas.

Jose Figueroa, Corporate Vice President, Motorola Networks and Enterprise echoed Zamindar’s comments and identified 2 very contrasting WiMAX market movers, Pakistan and the US. Pakistan, with a current broadband penetration rate of just 3% is witnessing a growth rate of 160%, focused primarily on fixed and nomadic service offerings. With an increasing focus on Mobile Internet and a broadband penetration of 20% the US is seeing a 17% growth rate. Figueroa also pointed out that we must think beyond the PC or PC card and should envision an “ecosystem of devices that spans all consumer electronics.” An open IP ecosystem will foster rapid innovation that will enable wireless broadband to deliver the next generation of applications.

Requirements for network mass adoption were outlined by Anand Chandrasekher, Senior Vice President, General Manager, Ultra Mobility Group, Intel Corporation. Low cost service and subscription rates together with compelling bandwidth delivered through a robust and ubiquitous network will be critical to success. He added that “uncompromised internet in your pocket today is not possible.” True, uncompromised Mobile Internet according to Chandrasekher includes a full web and media experience, mobile performance and software compatibility; something he views as “a big deal that gets taken for granted.”

Chandrasekher’s guest, Barry West, Chief Technology Officer and President, 4G Mobile Broadband, Sprint Nextel, suggested to delegates that “to get to an open internet model you need to get rid of subsidization” and that “WiMAX is an important piece of this equation.” West added that in addition to the need to drive device costs down, “power is a big issue” vendors need to focus on. He stated that devices need to evolve to a point where they require only a single charge cycle per day.

Scott Richardson, Chief Strategy Officer of Clearwire outlined how they have traditionally been considered as a fixed operator in the residential market. Richardson advised delegates that Clearwire is now “emerging as a personal broadband services provider. It’s about connecting You, not a structure,” he added, and “WiMAX is a premier technology to do this.”

Many of the track sessions in the afternoon set the agenda for the Great Debate on Mobile WiMAX versus LTE to take place on Day 2 of WiMAX World. Berge Ayvazian focused on the Business Models Track on WiMAX for 3G Operators, while Caroline Gabriel focused on the Deployment Track on WiMAX opportunities in Western Europe and Phil Marshall focused on the certification and testing of WiMAX infrastructure and the evolution of devices.

“Service providers from more than 25 EMEA countries on the agenda representing a wide range of deployment strategies, business models and technology plans have made WiMAX World Europe the most significant conference event in the EMEA region during 2007,” observed Conference Co-Chairman Berge Ayvazian.

As an exhibitor, Dan Johnson, Intel Event and Marcom Manager stated that WiMAX World “hits the target WiMAX audience for devices and equipment. The content and speakers have been extremely relevant and thought-provoking.”

About WiMAX World Conference & Expo
WiMAX World Conference & Expo is the largest event series in the world focused on WiMAX and mobile broadband, attracting over 10,000 attendees in USA, Europe and Asia. WiMAX World Conference & Expo is dedicated to providing an unbiased and balanced view of where WiMAX stands today and what role it will play in the future of one of the fastest-growing market segments in the world – wireless and mobile broadband.