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3G Still High-Price Low-Usage Market Leader

The three main technologies capable of enabling wireless data communications at broadband speeds to consumer devices -- Wi-Fi, WiMAX and cellular 3G -- are battling to attain and keep market share worldwide.

Each technology has its benefits and challenges, but ultimate adoption will vary greatly depending upon in which region of the world they are deployed, and the market development approach that's applied, according to the results of a new study by In-Stat.

In developed regions of the world such as the U.S. and Europe, for example, Wi-Fi has been widely deployed as a low-cost hotspot and wide-area mesh solution by local governments, colleges, and others; while WiMAX is being launched to be both a mainstream fixed wireless and mobile access solution that will compete with the boutique cellular 3G deployments.

"Each technology comes with its own strengths and weaknesses," says Daryl Schoolar, In-Stat analyst. "In-Stat sees the technologies both co-existing and competing." In the U.S. market, the 3G carriers have positioned themselves at the high-priced and low-usage service providers. This approach has created significant opportunities for competitors who seek to develop the market beyond the early-adopters.

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

- 3G is commonplace in developed countries and is starting to appear in developing regions.

- The more developed the region, the more important it is for WiMAX to be mobile.

- Other technologies, such as 802.20, have potential to play a role in future, but have a long way to go to achieve that potential.

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