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Compelling Business Case for 4G Coexistence

The number of WiMAX network deployments -- currently more than 500 across 145 countries -- is greater than that of any conventional 3G network technology and more than 50 percent greater than the number of HSPA network commitments.

However, most 4G WiMAX deployments to date have been small.

According to the latest market study by Pyramid Research, we should anticipate that coverage will increase. Many of the larger WiMAX deployments are still underway, and large countries -- such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam -- are just beginning to issue WiMAX licenses.

Highlights from the Pyramid market study include:

- Markets with the lowest broadband penetration rates represent the most upside, and they estimate that roughly 70 percent of WiMAX deployments are in emerging markets, led by the Africa and Middle East region with more than a quarter of global deployments.

- WiMAX volumes are dependent on the success of only a handful of large operators, while LTE has the backing of a substantial number of heavyweights -- most noticeably the largest Chinese operators.

- WiMAX operators are increasingly open to switching to LTE when doing so is necessary and economical, but they do not expect any of them to migrate to LTE anytime before 2013.

- Factors driving operators to deploy WiMAX are speed to market, surgical network deployment opportunities, mobility, multiple-use scenarios, its IP architecture, and the cost of spectrum and deployment.

- Certain operators in emerging markets would benefit from bypassing 3G in favor of moving directly to LTE in a few years, although this decision will depend on factors such as spectrum resources.

- Despite HSPA's greater scale, WiMAX USB dongles are priced competitively and even less expensive in some cases compared with other USB dongles.

- The LTE community has built on both the successes and mistakes made by the WiMAX community to create an improved OFDMA-based standard that conforms to a wider variety of spectrum bands and channel types.

- The LTE camp has learned from drawbacks to the prior walled-garden approaches of UMTS/HSPA and EVDO, and is being more open, flexible and harmonious, much like the WiMAX community is already.

- By 2014, Pyramid expects there to be nearly 53 million WiMAX subscribers worldwide, up from 5.5 million at year-end 2009. Fixed/portable WiMAX will remain more popular than mobile WiMAX services through 2014.

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