WiMAX networks in Europe are being deployed in most countries using spectrum at 3.5 GHz. However these are mostly confined to offering fixed wireless services. The mobile version of WiMAX (IEEE802.16e-2005) is also being deployed at 3.5 GHz and has been trialed in The Netherlands using 2.6 GHz spectrum. This latter is earmarked as the UMTS extension band for 3G operators to use.
The European Commission and several national regulators, including Norway, Sweden, and the UK, want the situation to change, as does the WiMAX Forum. The ITU has now also agreed that OFDM-based technologies should be included in the IMT2000 standard. This will place mobile WiMAX on the same footing as 3G mobile when it comes to using the 3G extension bands and, potentially, existing 3G bands.
“This is a good sign for technology neutrality becoming the accepted approach for spectrum auctions in the future,” says ABI Research analyst Ian Cox. “Mobile WiMAX products will start to appear in 2007 and can be used in unpaired spectrum, giving them an opportunity not available to UMTS.”
Cox further comments that, “Mobile WiMAX could compete in the market against 3G, HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE, and provide an entry path currently only available to incumbent operators.”
Meanwhile fixed WiMAX applications are already being deployed to complement and compete with DSL and cable networks in rural and other underserved areas, particularly in the new EU member states.
For users, says Cox, WiMAX will enable broadband services, including VoIP, to be offered over SIP-enabled networks. All services will be IP-based, offering high data rates and low latency, along with mobile network data speeds comparable to those of fixed networks.
For vendors, WiMAX will allow development of a new market to replace declining 3G revenues.
A new ABI Research Brief, “WiMAX in Europe” reviews the European market for WiMAX. It examines the current use of 3.5 GHz spectrum along with the regulatory situation and prospects for the future. It forms part of ABI Research’s Mobile Broadband Research Service, which also includes Research Reports, other Research Briefs, Market Data, ABI Insights, and analyst inquiry support.
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