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June 30, 2009

Infonetics: Network Operators Banking on Mobile VoIP to Lure Subscribers over to WiMAX

By Patrick Barnard
Senior Web Editor, TMCnet

Infonetics Research’s latest service provider survey, Global WiMAX Service Strategy 2009-2011, shows that service providers currently engaged in, or planning WiMAX deployments are banking on mobile VoIP to lure customers over to their next-generation networks.

In a survey of network operators, 59 percent of respondents said they plan to offer VoIP over WiMAX (News - Alert) services by 2011. The market research firm claims this is an “indication of the strong potential of voice over WiMAX as an additional high-value revenue stream for operators.”

Of the operators surveyed, 41 percent were from Asia-Pacific, 36 percent from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), 18 percent from North America, and 5 percent from Central and Latin America (CALA).

The survey reveals that an increasing number of GSM operators are entering the WiMAX market, most of them seeking to deliver mobile broadband, which includes mobile Internet, mobile VoIP and mobile video, among other capabilities. Many of them are discovering that WiMAX is a more cost-effective delivery option compared to other, more expensive 4G technologies, namely LTE.
"Although WiMAX service strategies differ from operator to operator and from market to market, most operators are focused on the less capital-intensive fixed and nomadic WiMAX broadband services now to address underserved markets seeking 'wireless DSL,' and many have formalized plans to migrate to full mobility WiMAX over the next couple of years,” said Richard Webb, Infonetics Research's (News - Alert) directing analyst for WiMAX, microwave, and mobile devices, in a release. “VoIP, CPE and device subsidization, and an emphasis on pre-paid and ad-hoc pricing are also integral service components for many operators we interviewed.”

The survey also reveals that most providers will be rolling out 4G services gradually -- not only to introduce subscribers to these advanced services more slowly, and measure the impact on network performance, but also so they don’t end up “breaking the bank” with significant network upgrades that may or may not pay off. Most will simply layer WiMAX over portions of their existing 3G networks and employ roaming to help with coverage in areas not served. Following this stage, operators will probably wait for a period of time for the mobile device ecosystem to become more diverse and affordable for consumers, the report finds.
Infonetics' Global WiMAX Service Strategy 2009-2011: Service Provider Survey is written to help operators better understand how and why WiMAX networks are being deployed, the rationale behind the services offered, the business model, the target markets, and the subscriber and revenue numbers operators are projecting between now and 2011.

For more about “The Potential Promise of WiMAX,” check out this article by TMCnet contributor Doug Mohney.

Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

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